Supernatural Proof Father
Usually, when a household starts experiencing supernatural events, and other bizarre occurrences, the whole family experiences them.
Well, almost everybody.
You see, the father, as the head of the family and the most "sensible and grounded" member, is the last person to encounter (or admit encountering) these bizarre events. The children see them, the wife/mother
sees them, Hell, even the family dog sees them.
But the dad is always the last person to see and believe. Although it's debatable whether or not they're the least susceptible, or just plain in denial
. This is a depressingly common trope in "Haunted House" style stories, and may also be used by elder brothers/best (male) friends, etc. Could also be a way for writers to keep the male out of the way of the story. Presumably because it's more believable when a woman is a scared victim
See also Not Now, Kiddo
, Adults Are Useless
. Contrast Only Sane Man
, where sanity in the face of mass hysteria is portrayed as a virtue.
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Anime & Manga
- Subverted in Bleach, where Isshin Kurosaki appears to be this at first, complaining about being the only member of his family not to see ghosts, then later turns out to be faking it, and, technically speaking, being a shinigami in a fake body the whole time. Point is, he's the source of their genetically heritable supernatural wackiness, and not an exception.
- Inverted in Haré+Guu, where Guu's Weirdness Censor renders her horror inconspicuous to everyone except Haré, the main character, and to a much lesser degree Dr. Clive, Haré's father. And the Village Elder who always turns into quivering jelly when Guu is around. Though that could be more due to what Guu did to him in the first episode than fear of the supernatural.
- Doctor Terrance Thirteen, the Ghost Breaker, is The DCU's preeminent example, earnestly believing that aliens (like Superman), magicians (like Doctor Fate) and supernatural beings (like The Spectre) simply don't exist at all, even though his daughter, Traci, is a member of the Homo Magi, magic-using humans such as Zatanna. He's treated unilaterally as a joke. Ironically, in his original appearances before continuity held sway (that is, before The DCU was firmly established as a Shared Universe where nearly all DC properties resided), the ghosts and magicians he went up against always were fake and his skepticism was presented as a virtuous trait; but when continuity started drawing all DC books into one reality, he was first shown the spirit of his dead father by the Spectre, then he was teamed with the very mystical Phantom Stranger, and from then on he was always wrong, simply because the Stranger's very existence demanded it be so. Dr. 13 currently lives outside of the time stream, aware of his own fictional nature; he is teamed with an alien, a vampire, a French caveman, and a talking vampire gorilla with Nazi leanings, his daughter is a rather powerful witch, and he believes none of this.
- There have been two alternate takes on Dr. 13, making his skepticism something other than the Idiot Ball. In Neil Gaiman's The Books of Magic, the fact he doesn't believe in magic means it simply doesn't work around him, in a cross between Clap Your Hands If You Believe and Weirdness Censor. In Grant Morrison's Zatanna he visits a mystical dimension and is happy to admit something's happening, but defines it all in scientific terms. (Quantum mechanics and M-theory get a lot of crap past the scientific radar.) There's also the Architecture and Morality take, wherein he's simply strongly in denial of reality.
- He's met the DC comic staff so he knows they're all fiction.
- Dr. 13 frequently alternated in stories where the Phantom Stranger appeared opposite him showing a prior story that was pure trickery he'd revealed only to have things a bit more supernatural (obviously) much of but not always when they were together. He also once disproved that ghosts haunted a house by showing it was actually ALIENS using the house as a stopover point as they teleported across the universe. He's always been the example of the devout worshiper of science whose blind-spot always has him refusing to accept the evidence of supernatural things because he operates under the (obviously proven wrong) premise that nothing supernatural actually exists.
- In the New 52 The Phantom Stranger title, he's been reinvented as a "scientific occultist" in the mould of Egon Spengler. His ancestor, the original Terrence Thirteen in All-Star Western, on the other hand, is the ultimate Flat-Earth Atheist: at one point his ghost chides the modern-day Terry for believing in the supernatural, believing that he himself is just a hallucination.
Films — Live-Action
- In The Amityville Horror, George is the last person to believe the house is haunted, yet is probably the one most affected, barring the Priest of course who ends up getting cursed after being the house for all of 10 minutes.
- In the film The Orphanage, the female lead, Laura, notices all the creepy stuff thats going on, while her husband, Carlos, sees nothing, and remains relatively uninvolved. A big theme of the movie was how belief change's one's perception. The husband didn't want to believe in ghosts, so he got minimal exposure, while the wife and the alleged psychic got full treatment.
- Genderflipped in The Shining. Jack and his son are the only two to experience the hotel's evil haunting. Jack is slowly driven insane in part by his inability to tell his wife what's going on, and his son (being psychic) is getting bombarded with oh-so-horrible ghostly memories. His wife is quite firmly grounded in reality, and in fact proves to be more than Jack or the Hotel can readily handle even after he goes batty on her.
- In the Silent Hill movie, the main protagonist's husband believes that their daughter has simply gone insane, and tries as hard as he can to keep his wife from driving her to the titular town. This is a debatable example, because he might just be smart enough to realize that taking someone who yells the name of a place in her nightmares to that very place is a little like looking for a gas leak in a dark room with a match.
- Averted in The Monster Squad, where Sean's dad quickly gets the picture after seeing Dracula blow up his partner with a stick of dynamite, and spends the rest of the movie helping his son battle the monsters. Bonus points for also being a cop; you know how they usually fare in this type of movie...
- Several of the A Nightmare on Elm Street films, including Nancy's dad from the original and Jesse's dad from Freddy's Revenge.
- It's hinted in Freddy vs. Jason (and even before that) that at least some of the parents, as well as certain members of the police department, knew that the new wave of teen deaths weren't a coincidence which, in turn, lead to the dream suppressant drug Hypnocil and a "Don't Say That Name" policy.
- The film Audrey Rose concerns Ivy Templeton, a preteen girl tortured by horrific nightmares of dying in a car crash. When her parents are approached by a man named Elliot Hoover who claims that Ivy is the reincarnation of his dead daughter Audrey Rose (who died in a car crash at the exact moment of Ivy's birth), Ivy's father refuses to believe it. He holds fast to his belief even after the evidence becomes overwhelming enough to have convinced his wife, leading to serious tension between the two.
- Averted in the first Phantasm movie. The protagonist's older brother and father figure is the second person to figure out the supernatural goings-on at the cemetery, and he also subverts Adultsare Useless by grabbing his shotgun and Colt 1911 and investigating things firsthand. On the DVD commentary, the director talks about about how he hates this trope, and it was his goal to avert it from the beginning.
- Insidious cleverly plays with this trope, and deconstructs it. The father Josh rejects the idea that anything supernatural is happening to his son because he's repressing his memory of a ghost that had haunted him and tried to possess him when he was a kid. Him abandoning his skepticism turns out to be the worst thing he could've possibly done, as it gets him possessed in the end. Furthermore, his son inherited his ability to astral project into the spirit world (or the "further").
- Paranormal Activity:
- While not a father, Micah refuses to believe that he and Katie are being haunted by a demon, and before he takes it seriously he mocks and taunts it.
- Dan from the sequel plays this completely straight, though he does behave somewhat more sensibly than Micah.
- Inverted in Paranormal Activity 3, where the mother is the one who refuses to believe anything strange is going on despite it affecting her husband and children.
- Played somewhat straight Paranormal Activity 4 with both parents, though the daughter hurts her case by only showing the father footage once at the beginning, which the father thinks is fake, then telling them about all the weird stuff happening instead of showing them the much better footage she collects later on.
- Played painfully straight by Don't be Afraid of the Dark.
- Taken to idiotic extremes in The Haunting of Molly Hartley, where the eponymous character's father refuses to believe her when she tells him about the Satanic cult that is after her, even though he had made a literal Deal with the Devil to save her life several years prior.
- In The Canterville Ghost, people can only see ghosts if they already believe in ghosts. The dad, because he doesn't believe in ghosts, can't see them, and because he can't see them, it reinforces his belief that ghosts aren't real. He blames the ghost's activities to pranks on the part of the children, to the shock of the ghost in question.
- Also averted in Stir of Echoes when the dad's latent psychic powers cause the trouble.
- In Poltergeist, everyone else in the family finds out about the haunting before the father (especially the "symmetrical chair stacking"). He comes home and the mother demonstrates the power of a "sliding area" using a chair and Carol Anne. He's also very skeptical about the psychic Tangina's powers later on.
- Daniel in Dark Skiesnote is a textbook example. Something Awful refers to him, and this character type in general, as "Horror Dad" in its review. Although to be fair Daniel is more so a case of extreme denial, plus he's obviously terrified and confused. In the third act he does come to terms with whats happening to him and his family.
- Inverted in The Possession, where it's the mother Stephanie who is the skeptic. She thinks that Clyde's claims about demons and the dibbuk box are just more BS to cover for his bad parenting.
- Subverted in Rosemary's Baby. Rosemary's husband tries to convince her that nothing strange is going on with their neighbors next door and that all of the other disturbing things that happen to her during her pregnancy are in her mind. However, he knows that they are really part of a devil-worshiping cult, and he's promised the baby to them.
- This trope is analyzed in detail in Berkeley professor Carol J. Clover's treatise on gender in horror films Men, Women, and Chainsaws.
- Wonderfully subverted in Clive Barker's short story, The Yattering and Jack. The premise is that a demon has been assigned to drive the owner of a house mad or corrupt him by haunting him, but the demon cannot leave the house or reveal himself nor harm him or even affect him directy. The only problem is that man is completely boring and has no vices to be corrupted by, and ignores everything the demon does, which drives the demon to suicidal frustration. When the man's daughter comes over for Christmas dinner, the demon pulls out all the stops and animates the turkey. His daughter is freaked out, while the man still just shrugs and says he's going to go for a walk. The demon finally comes out and grabs his arm. The man turns and says "Ah ha! Got you!" Turns out the man knew about the demon all along and was only faking disbelief, and knew if the demon ever affected him directly then the demon would become enslaved to him.
- The Colour Out of Space by H. P. Lovecraft, where the father is the last one in the Gardner family who is alive and relatively sane.
- In Peter Pan Mr. Darling's refusal to believe in the existence of Peter Pan (in spite of his wife's, and even his dog's, efforts to convince him otherwise) indirectly results in the departure of the children to Neverland. Afterwards, he even sleeps in a kennel to atone for this — the origin of the phrase "in the doghouse".
- Some literary scholars claim that the father in The Erl-King by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe represents the enlighted attitude of his time and is thus unresponsive to the supernatural phenomena his son (and for that matter all children - and women due to their sensitive nature) are capable of sensing.
- The Made-for-TV movie The Haunted had a father who didn't experience any of the supernatural happenings that the other family members was experiencing, Until he was raped by a female ghost/demon.
- Completely averted in Supernatural, since the father is the one that finds the mother's body trapped on the ceiling, sees the ceiling light on fire, and then spends the rest of his life seeking out the demon that did it so he can avenge his wife. And he immerses himself in the supernatural and even raises his sons like soldiers to take over "the family business" when they grow up.
- In The Miraculous Mellops, the father and some other adults don't believe in anything outside an ordinary lifestyle. While the father is affected by one supernatural event and the aunt suddenly learns forign languages, they still doesn't believe it's supernatural, and thinks the kids are still playing games.
- In Round the Twist, Tony Twist, father of the three kid protagonists, is the last to believe the ghost in the first episode is real. Despite continuing strange goings on in Port Niranda, he's also most prone to Arbitrary Scepticism.
- In American Horror Story: Murder House Ben takes much longer than the others to realize something is going on, despite this requiring some Selective Obliviousness. After seeing Hayden killed and helping bury her and building a gazebo over her body, when he sees her ghost he decides she faked her death.
- Discovery Channel has a surprisingly creepy show about real-life hauntings called A Haunting, and it's usually the father/husband who's the last to freak out. In some episodes, he never acknowledges whatever weirdness drove his family from their home. Some examples seem to imply that whatever may have been haunting the family was specifically aiming for this trope, by only tormenting the ones that believe most and driving a wedge between the family members when they still don't believe.
- In fact most of the POV seems to be that of women recalling their ordeal. Although most of the males on the show seemed like they were in denial.
- The Haunted, a show on Animal Planet featuring stories of hauntings connected to the family pets (often very loosely), also often had this trope in effect.
- 666 Park Avenue: Henry Martin, to frustrating levels, but it could be argued that the Dorans are hiding the supernatural part to him because they plan to lure him in and use him for whatever purpose.
- Buffy's father was absent from nearly the entire show, but somehow fits this, since he never gets to find out. An episode even revealed that Buffy told her parents but both didn't believe it, of course, Joyce found out the truth later.
- American Dragon Jake Long. The reason for this is threefold: the dragon "gene" was passed down through the mother (it skipped a generation, apparently), the father is a Cloudcuckoolander, and the rest of the family is deliberately keeping the fact that his father-in-law, daughter, son, and many other relatives are dragons from him. She's been trying to find a way to break the news to him... since sometime in the early nineties. He eventually finds out though.