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Abusive Parents / Live-Action Films

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  • The dinner table scene in After Earth goes a bit too far with Cypher's aloofness to his son, making him seem like this instead. Especially when you learn the reason for it is that he resents Kitai leaving his sister to be killed by an ursa, when he would have undoubtedly just been killed himself if he'd stayed.
  • In Agnes of God, Agnes is sexually molested by her mother.
  • In The Alzheimer's Case it's revealed that Laddo and his brother were physically and sexually abused by their father as children, which explains Laddo's hatred of harming children as an adult.
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  • In the alternate 1985 of Back to the Future Part II, Biff Tannen proves himself to be abusive to both his Trophy Wife Lorraine and his adopted children, even threatening to put his wife and her children in jail alongside her brother Joey if she ever tried to leave him.
  • Inverted in the Bollywood movie Baghban. Raj and Pooja provided their four sons with everything they needed, at the expense of their own desires. However, when they are forced to live with their sons, they force Raj and Pooja to live seperately. Both receive a lot of abuse staying at their son.
  • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Alexander Luthor, Snr., who used to beat his son, Lex (at the very least — Lex does mention "daddy's fists and abominations") while presenting himself to the public as a loving father.
  • Macy Jean isn't trying to be abusive, but none the less makes her daughter's life a living hell in Beyond The Lights. She micromanages Noni's life and career to the point that Noni feels as though she is, in her own words, "suffocating in the middle of the street and no one can see me dying". This, along with the demands and hyper-sexualized image forced upon her by her record label, is what leads Noni to attempt suicide by jumping off her balcony — and ultimately to her firing her mother as her manager.
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  • Bird Box: Malorie threatens her kids with physical harm at least a few times to make sure they know not to stray from any orders she gives, which is probably traumatizing, and leaves the girl particularly frightened of her. She severely regrets it in the end.
  • Nina's mother in Black Swan is shown to be overbearing and emotionally crippling; she still lives with her twenty-eight year old daughter, constantly keeps tabs on Nina's career (by phoning in to the people at the ballet company), projects her own regrets and failures on her — at one point implying that Nina was the reason she had to give up on her dreams... to Nina's face no less, and is presented to the audience as a barrier between Nina and her sexuality, let alone adulthood in general. How much of this is the real her, and how much is a result of Nina's slowly slipping grip on reality is anyone's guess.
  • The Breakfast Club: All five of the main characters have these.
    • Bender's father is an alcoholic who beats him for no discernable reason and his mother also calls him lazy.
    • Brian's parents emotionally treat him like a dog and live vicariously off of his academic achievements.
    • Claire's parents play mind games on her to get back at each other.
    • Allison's parents don't give a damn, and ignore her.
    • Andy's dad is a sociopathic bastard who pressures his son to be like him and perform perfectly in sports. Like Brian's parents, it is insinuated he gets his jollies off of this.
  • Jess' father, in the 2007 Film of the Book of Bridge to Terabithia, is a borderline case. He is abjectly disrespectful of his son's creativity and constantly makes sneering remarks about his son's kind heart and artistic ability. However, he begins making a Heel–Face Turn by the end of the story, brought on by Leslie's death. Jess retains his kindness and creativity, despite his father's harsh treatment.
  • In Broken Blossoms Lucy Burrows is regularly beaten by her father, who eventually kills her.
  • The Butterfly Effect has Kayleigh's father. In the first timeline, he often had her strip and filmed her. In another timeline, due to Evan's interference, he left her alone but shifted the abuse to her brother. It is implied that it was physical abuse rather than sexual.

  • Trust me, you do NOT want to have a mother in Carved: The Slit-Mouthed Woman. Every child that does (except for Natsuki) was physically abused by their mothers. note 
  • In The Catcher, Johnny's father is a 'Sports Dad': driving his son so hard to be perfect in baseball that it reaches the point of physical abuse. Johnny snaps and beats his dad to death with a baseball bat.
  • Frank Abagnale Jr.'s parents in Catch Me If You Can but his father engages in emotional abuse in one of his last scenes. Frank has been trying to stop his criminal lifestyle for a while now, but can't go through with it until his father tell him that it's alright to do so. Instead Frank Sr. refuses and tries to use his son as a weapon against the government out of spite, because they didn't support him when his business went under. This part of the film did not happen in real life.
  • This is a plot point in Chinatown, and is the source of one of Film Noir's most shocking reveals. To make a long story short, Noah Cross raped Mrs. Mulwray and she had a daughter by him. Mulwray's protectiveness toward her drives a good amount of the plot.
  • In A Christmas Story, Ralphie's mom asks him where he learned the "F dash dash dash" word. He decides it's a bad idea to truthfully say his dad, so he says his friend Schwartz. Ralphie's mom calls Mrs. Schwartz and notifies her. She screams "What?!" and proceeds to beat him without even hanging up.
  • Nathan Grantham in Creepshow, as well as the father of the boy who's reading the comic in the framing story.
  • One of The Joker's "scar stories" in The Dark Knight has Joker claiming that he got at least one of the Glasgow Grin scars from his drunken father as a child, after said father stabbed his mother to death right in front of him. He later implies that this particular story is his actual origin ("You know, you remind me of my father. I hated my father!")
  • All the parents of the villain kids in Descendants. The Evil Queen taught her daughter to value physical appearance above all else while constantly telling her that she wasn't quite pretty enough to meet her standards, Jafar only cares about his son when he steals something of value for his shop, Cruella de Vil treats her son as little more than a slave and values her fur coats and car over his life, and Big Bad Maleficent saw her daughter as a tool to get back in power and (according to a tie-in novel) punished her as a kid for showing basic human kindness towards someone, not to mention how she tried to kill her and her friends during the film's climax for rejecting villainy.
  • The parents in Dogtooth keep their kids in a walled-off estate and skew their perceptions of reality (by teaching them the wrong meanings of words and making them come to believe that the outside world is dangerous). When one of the daughters (none of the kids have been given names) comes into contact with some DVDs, the father tapes said DVDs to his hand and beats her brutally with them.
  • In Don't Breathe, Rocky relates that after her father left, her mother used to tell her that it was her fault he left, and used to lock her in the trunk of the car to keep her out of the way.
  • In Don't Go in the House Donny's mother used to put his bare arms over the gas stove in order to "burn the evil out of him". This seemed to be a regular childhood punishment of his.
  • Eastern Promises. Semyon is physically and verbally abusive well into Kirill's adulthood. It may have gotten worse now that Kirill's a grown man, and is also, at least implicitly, because Kirill is likely gay. It comes across as worse in contrast to how Semyon treats the little girls in their family, which seems genuinely avuncular. Well, maybe not all the little girls in his family — Semyon also orders Kirill to murder one of his illegitimate children, who would be Kirill's own infant half-sister.
  • This is a main plot point of Film/El Bola, a Spanish movie in which the main character is verbally and physically abused by his father. The final scene shows him filing a complaint against his father at the police station.
  • In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Credence Barebone is routinely beaten by his adopted, wizard-hating mother, which has been going on since before the start of the film. This is part of the reason Credence is helping the wizard government on investigations into his mother, despite not being a wizard himself.
  • One of the themes in Forrest Gump is the effect that childhood sexual abuse (at the hands of her father) had over the course of Jenny's (Forrest Gump's sweetheart's) life.
  • In Frailty, a father forces his son to murder people the father believes are demons, and punishes him severely when he refuses.
  • Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare has Mr. Underwood, Freddy Krueger's foster parent, who used to whip him with a belt, until one day Freddy's sadomasochism proved too much and he got killed.
  • The Galaxy Invader: Joe chases his daughter Carroll with a shotgun and shoots at her because she slapped him.
  • Andrew Garfield's character, Desmond Doss, in Hacksaw Ridge has an alcoholic father who beats him and his brother most days of their childhood. Still, it's implied his alcohol problems started after seeing the horrors of World War I, and Desmond seems to have reconciled with him by his adulthood. Specifically, the father gave up drinking after Desmond stopped him from abusing his wife and pointed a gun at him, causing his father to curl up and sob.
  • Michael Myers had these in the Halloween (2007) remake.
  • In Heathers, J.D.'s father Bud Dean is strongly implied to be a sociopath who doesn't care about his son. He also drove his wife into committing suicide.
  • The Hunger Games: It is shown in the film that Peeta's mother at the very least is abusive. She is shown to be yelling at him, presumably for burning bread. The other indicator is that she told him that District 12 might have a winner, and it is more telling that his response is "She wasn't talking about me."
  • Jug Face: Loriss responds to her refusing to submit to a virginity test by burning her thigh with a cigarette, and then cuts her finger to find out who took said virginity. Sustin is more caring, but still complicit. That is, until she runs off with Dawai, and he whips her so badly she miscarries.
  • In Julia X, Julia and Jessica were sexually abused by their father.
  • Though thankfully not shown onscreen, Zack is regularly beaten by his father (who also beats his mother) in Kindergarten Cop, and, as a result, is emotionally stunted and regularly comes to school with bruises from "falling down the stairs." When your homeroom teacher happens to be Arnold Schwarzenegger, you can bet that the child-beating brute is going to get a delightful collection of bruises of his own...
    • Cullen Crisp isn't too fond either. In one scene he'll gush about meeting his son again. Then in another, he holds the kid hostage.
      • Crisp also implies that his own mother's overbearing nature may have scarred him.
  • K. Roth's mother in The Living Wake is of the emotionally abusive variety. Coldly blames his father's disappearance on him (as in, tells him to his face that it was his fault. And his father disappeared when he was five), and refuses to believe him when he tells her that he only has one day left to live, and would like her to come to his funeral, which he'll be leading later that day. Once he actually does die, she does show a bit of remorse, but not nearly enough.
  • Frank Zito's mother in Maniac!. In the original it is strongly implied that his mother regularly burnt him with cigarettes, we see the scars in the opening scene on his chest as he examines them in a mirror. There is also a scene in which he burns a little boy mannequin with a cigarette in the same place, while he has an audio flashback of his mother's psychological abuse. There are several audio flashbacks of her locking him in a closet as punishment while he begs her not to. In a scene where he talks to a victim (who he imagines as his mother) he mentions how she brought men back to the house for sex in return for money, and how he had witnessed this as a child. He also mentions how she would go out and leave him on his own. In the remake, there are visual flashbacks of him witnessing his mother having sex with her clients. He was locked in the closet and she knew he could see her having sex, so in the case she intended him to witness it. Another visual flashback is shown of his mother having sex with a client, this time outside (and at night), Frank watches them and is clearly disturbed. She is then verbally abusive to him and shouts at him to wait in the car.
  • Maps to the Stars has two instances: actress Havana Segrand, who claims she was abused by her actress mom (although the ghost of said mom begs to differ), and TV psychologist Dr. Stannis Weiss, who physically assaults a young woman who is also his daughter from an incestuous marriage.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
    • In Captain America: Civil War, Howard Stark is portrayed in Tony's memory as overbearing and emotionally crippling, particularly in how he constantly taunted Tony with cruel verbal remarks. It's also revealed in one of the tie-in comics that Howard was at least mildly physically abusive as well, and seemed to engage in such actions even when Tony wasn't necessarily doing anything — he hit Tony for leaving his toys on the floor, then proceeded to curse at him and yell at him for “wasting his time” playing with toys. Tony himself would later describe Howard as cold and calculating, and adds that Howard was apparently happy when he shipped his six or seven-year-old son off to boarding school in Iron Man 2. It’s complicated in that Howard, at least according to Tony’s mother, missed Tony when he was away, and even recorded a video confessing parental love toward Tony for his son to find when he was older. Though this doesn’t really help Tony’s case, as he wouldn’t make peace with his father’s treatment of him until his early fifties after he becomes a dad himself and bonds over parenthood with a past version of his dad.
    • Also zigzaged with Odin in regards to adoptive son Loki and even his favourite child Thor. Much like Howard, Odin set high standards for his sons, promising Thor and Loki that were both born to be kings which emotionally degraded Loki when it was clear that only Thor could claim the throne. When Thor tries to take revenge on the Ice Giants, Odin wastes no time violently banishing his son to Earth (which even Frigga calls him out on in a deleted scene) in an attempt to teach him humility. When Loki returns to Asgard after attacking Earth, seemingly dying and then invading Earth, Odin cruelly says Loki was meant to die as a baby and claims it’s only because of Frigga that he isn’t executed (to be fair, Loki did betray his family and murder innocents). While Odin isn’t gonna win father of the year, it’s the important to note Odin did love his sons and only wanted what he perceived was best for them even if that meant lying to them. In Thor: Ragnarok we understand Odin’s actions better thanks to Hela (the eldest child) who symbolises what Thor and Loki would’ve become if they weren’t kept in check.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Ego ultimately becomes this as he sees his son Peter Quill as no more than a means to an end, and has no qualms forcibly draining the life force out of his own son when he refuses to cooperate. Worse still, Ego has the huge Kick the Dog moment when he crushes Peter’s Walkman which his mother gave him effectively shattering the last link Peter has to his beloved mother.
      • While Yondu genuinely loved Peter Quill as a son, his treatment him is still quite bad. In the first movie he not only slaps Peter repeatedly but grabs his face and threatens to kill him with his arrow. Yondu also claims he could’ve fed Peter to the crew, something he apparently held over Quill until manhood. However, he also is shown to care for Peter several times, and also tends to be pretty lenient with his betrayals, something that his crew brings up several times.
    • It’s clearly shown and implied Madame B, Black Widow’s mentor was pretty damn awful to Natasha. Not only because she forced her pupil in sterilisation but because decades later she still haunts Natasha as shown in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
    • Played straight with Thanos towards his adoptive (kidnapped) daughters Nebula and Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Infinity War. Right off the bat Thanos’ treatment of Nebula is horrific; not only would he force the sisters to fight but every time Nebula lost he would replace a piece of her with a machine to point where she’s a cyborg after countless defeats birthing a hatred of Gamora in Nebula. Worse still, Thanos openly states Gamora is favourite daughter right in front of Nebula. In Infinity War we see the abuse first hand as Thanos tortures Nebula in order to get Gamora to reveal the Soul Stone. In the Final Battle when Nebula states Thanos should’ve killed her when he had the chance he retorts to his daughter that “it would’ve been a waste of parts”... yeah Nebula’s anger hardly needs any justification. Thanos’ abuse of Gamora is more psychological as fans have noted while he does genuinely love her, Thanos still emotionally manipulates Gamora and plays off her insecurities to shape her into something she inherently isn’t. Gamora at one point states to her adoptive father that it’s “isn’t love” between than and much like Real Life Thanos just mistakes his abuse as his own form of love, and even worse Thanos is shown he prepared to kill his daughter if his goal requires it, as he chucks Gamora off a cliff to get the Soul Stone.
    • Played straight in a big case of Getting Crap Past the Radar in Captain Marvel as Carol’s dad was shown in flash backs to be an abusive asshole (the scene on beach with Carol as little girl even implies physical abuse). This poor relationship with her father darkened Carol’s attitude towards most men and it’s suggested she’s joined the airforce because of a desire to prove herself, Carol’s later breakdown over her identity and fact she softens up to Talos the Skrull immensely when she learns he’s a loving father gives validation to this idea.
  • The title character in Mikey had these as well.
  • Mommie Dearest, which is based on the infamous exploits of Joan Crawford. Faye Dunaway's Crawford is painful to listen to at times.
  • Mr. Deeds implies that the father of one of the characters was physically abusive, as Mr Deeds' character lectures the character about swearing in front of the ladies as well as skipping school. Although he does tell the dad about skipping school, he apparently didn't tell the dad about swearing in front of the ladies, to which when he found out from Deeds, he was implied to have beaten the son with a belt. It is done for laughs. With the character being an (adult) football player.
  • Bill Heslop in Muriel's Wedding degrades his children at every turn, including this little gem in the middle of a restaurant where he was supposed to be impressing a pair of Japanese businessmen: "Useless. You're all useless! A bunch of useless no-hopes..."
  • Hinted at with Charlie in Mystery Team.
  • In the movie Natural Born Killers there is a flashback which shows Mickey as a deliveryman who came to the house where Mallory lived with her abusive father, her neglectful mother, and her younger brother Kevin. The flashback is portrayed as an All In The Family or Married... With Children-style sitcom with a canned laughter track, the "audience" laughing hardest when Mallory is subjected to lewd comments, being molested by her father, and threatened with rape. It's implied he's raped her before, when her mother notes that Kevin was only born because her father was drunk and didn't realize he was in his own bedroom, and not Mallory's.
  • John Schneider's character Jacob, from October Baby, is a rare unintentional example of this trope. He lies to his adopted daughter, uses the borderline-suicidal passages in her diary as a pretext for further hospitalization, violates the Hippocratic Oath, pushes her out of relationship with her best friend, and threatens to pull her out of college. All for her own good, mind you.
  • One of Homer Hickam, Jr.'s schoolmates in October Sky has an abusive stepfather, finally resulting in Homer Hickam, Sr. stepping in and threatening to beat the stepfather any time he sees evidence that he's been abusing the boy.
  • In Pay It Forward, Trevor's father beats his mother, Mr. Simonet's father beat his mother and him (not to mention burning him alive), and Trevor's grandmother is implied to have been this.
  • Precious: Poor, poor Clareece "Precious" Jones. An illiterate and obese teenager, she has been raped by her father and impregnated twice, and endures constant and physical abuse from her unemployed mother, Mary. To escape from her grimy reality, she often tries to imagine a world where she's loved and appreciated.
  • The monstrous Mrs. Bates in Psycho inflicted awful emotional abuse on her son, Norman. First of all, she cut him off from all other society throughout childhood, making him utterly dependent on her. All the while, she tells him that sex is evil and dirty, and that women are whores (except her). She then abandons him at age 12 when she finds a boyfriend. Unable to deal with the loss of his one companion, Norman murders them both. Wracked with guilt afterwards, he develops an identity disorder, occasionally taking on her personality to deal with his guilt and grief. Unfortunately, even the internalised Mrs. Bates is emotionally abusive, and Norman is riddled with anxieties over his sexuality and still smothered by his domineering mother.
  • The entire reason two brothers attempt to build a flying machine in Radio Flyer is to escape their Wicked Stepfather. "The King", as he's called, is particularly abusive to Bobby, the younger brother, beating him over the tiniest things while in a drunken rage. At one point Bobby even needs to be hospitalized for the abuse.
  • In The Rawhide Terror, Brent beats his stepson Jimmy hard enough that he requires serious medical attention.
  • Reform School Girls: Lisa's foster mother used to lock her and her kid brother in an icebox in the garage as punishment. Her brother eventually suffocated during one of these episodes.
  • SHAZAM! (2019): Thaddeus Sivana's father, who was indirectly responsible for his descent to villainy. Once we first see him, he is harassing his young son along with Thaddeus' brother and started to treat him worse after he gets into an accident which was not Thaddeus' fault in any way. This later bites him in the ass as his now villainous son allows Greed (one of the Seven Deadly Sins) to finish him off, all the while calling out his father for "crying to others", which his father constantly harassed him for.
  • Sing Street: Barry has an alcoholic father who physically and emotionally abuses him.
  • Implied in the Spider-Man Trilogy. Mary Jane's father is heard yelling at her, and we hear him mentioned, but we never lay eyes on the man. Of course, he's abusive so it's no great loss that we don't know anything more about him.
  • Gordie's, Chris's and Teddy's fathers in Stand by Me. Gordie's father is emotionally abusive, Chris's father is physically abusive, and Teddy's father pressed Teddy's ear down on a hot stove disfiguring it, presumably during a flashback to his time in WWII. (Yet, Teddy furiously defends his father when the junk man calls him a "loony". This loyalty is something Gordie claims to never have understood.)
  • In Star Trek (2009) Kirk's stepfather, Frank, is implied to have been abusive.
  • Darth Vader from Star Wars lops off his own son's hand in a lightsaber duel and then has the audacity to ask him to join the Dark Side. In the previous movie, he had his daughter outright tortured and forced her to watch her homeworld get blown up, though he wasn't aware of their relationship at that point.
    • Darth Sidious isn't the biological father of Darth Maul, but he did raise him. It was not fun for Maul. When Maul survived, it got even worse. The same applies with Anakin/Darth Vader, as Anakin (who has no biological father) looked up to Palpatine (Sidious' civilian identity) as a father figure.
    • It's probably fair to say that any Sith Lord in the Star Wars universe who has kids is gonna be this, with few exceptions.
      • This applies to some Expanded Universe examples as well. One 80s issue of the Marvel Comics Star Wars series has Luke visit a planet where he meets a young child thief named Scamp. It's shown that he and his siblings are forced by their cruel father to steal from the city's richer families to satisfy his own greed. One scene even has the man striking one of Scamp's brothers.
    • The Last Jedi reveals that Rey is not a Kenobi or even a Skywalker like fans were hoping. Her mother and father were actually drunken nobodies who sold her into slavery for drinking money and never loved her in the slightest.
      • In the Knights of the Old Republic comic series, we find that the Mandalorian Mad Scientist Demagol has a daughter. Having a war criminal who experiments on children (including her) and captured prisoners is certainly gonna insure she is really messed up as an adult. And wouldn't you know it, that's exactly what happens.
      • Oddly enough though, most other Mandalorians completely avert this. Despite being a society of ruthless, fearsome warriors, they treasure their families. So even though their kids might have some strict warrior training regimens, they have genuinely loving parents and tend to be quite happy.
  • Stoker gives us Evelyn Stoker. This quote from the film should say it all.
    "You know, I've often wondered why it is we have children in the first place. And the conclusion I've come to is... At some point in our lives we realize things are screwed up beyond repair. So we decide to start again. Wipe the slate clean. Start fresh. And then we have children. Little carbon copies we can turn to and say, "You will do what I could not. You will succeed where I have failed." Because we want someone to get it right this time. But not me... Personally speaking, I can't wait to watch life tear you apart."
  • Sybil, starring Sally Field. A girl is abused so badly she splits into multiple personalities to protect herself. The psychology may be dubious, but the depictions of the abuse are harrowing.
  • The title character's father in Tamara, a violent alcoholic who rapes his daughter.
  • In a bit of narration in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Sarah Connor reflects on the fact that every would-be father figure Sarah had chosen for John was abusive or in some way unfavorable... except the reprogrammed T-800 sent to protect John.
  • The Truman Show: Christof, sort of. He was the one who adopted Truman, and his treatment of him is that of a horribly controlling father: trapping him in one place for the rest of his life, violating his privacy, emotionally and psychologically abusing him into staying put by taking away one of the people closet to him, and claiming he is doing it for the greater good. And later trying to kill him when he finally escapes your games. The actors playing Truman's parents count since they deceived Truman for their own personal gain.
  • UHF: R.J. Fletcher portrays this real well when he's first seen & heard abusing his son R.J. Fletcher Jr. for not acting intelligent enough.
  • In Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael, Winona Ryder's character had an emotionally abusive adoptive mother.
  • Welcome to the Dollhouse: Dawn Weiner has some of the worst parents in the history of film. Her mother is condescending, cruel and constantly talks down to her, while her father doesn't want to know/care she exists. When her little sister is kidnapped, she heroically runs away and tries to find her. Her sister is found, but Dawn's parents don't even care/know that she's gone. Someone call child services.
    • In the director's later film Palindromes, it is revealed Dawn committed suicide as a result of the abuse.
  • Nina's parents practice Honor-Related Abuse in When Darkness Falls, because they think Nina is destroying the Family Honor by meeting a boy.
  • The entire plot of The White Ribbon revolves around parental brutality, repression and abuse against children in a German pre-war village.
  • In The Windmill Massacre, Jennifer's father was a thug who used to brutally beat her and her kid sister.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • William Stryker in X2: X-Men United lobotomized his mutant son Jason and reduced him to a wheelchair-bound source of mind control serum. He even stops referring to his son by name, calling him "Mutant 143". Xavier is horrified that William would do this to his own son, but William claims that his son is already dead, just like the rest of mutantkind.
    • In The Wolverine, Shingen Yashida is seen slapping his daughter early on, and later tries to kill her.


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