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Disappeared Dads in live-action TV.


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    A 
  • Played for Laughs on A Bit of Fry and Laurie in one sketch. The duo play two very dense, inept detectives who break into the wrong house looking for a man. After confronting the woman who lives there they demand to see her husband, but she's not married. It transpires the only male there is her infant son (played by Hugh Laurie's real son). They are comically unable to grasp the idea that you can have a child without a husband, while the woman explains the father was "a sailor", and apparently is not around.
  • 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.
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Skye's father hasn't been a part of her life for twenty-five years. To be fair to the man, the separation wasn't his fault, he spent most of that time trying to find her again, and once he does he immediately tries to reconnect with her. Unfortunately, those years turned him into a violently bipolar criminal, so she doesn't want to have anything to do with him.
  • The Aliens: Antoine was this to Lewis, because he was imprisoned for decades on drug dealing charges. Lewis didn't even know about his real paternity for most of that though.
  • In Alphas, the father of Skyler's daughter Zoe is never mentioned, nor his absence explained.
  • 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.
  • Arrow: Tommy Merlyn's father, Malcolm, physically disappears to train with the League of Assassins after his wife is murdered and he has murdered her supposed killer. Even after he returns, he remains distant.
    Tommy (to Oliver Queen): Your dad took me to my first hockey game. Your dad taught us how to fly fish. Your dad took us to our first R-rated movie.
    • This trope is played with in regards to Slade Wilson, who is a disappeared dad who wants to get back to his son, Joe. However, the narrative follows his interactions with Oliver, so we see exactly what's keep him from reuniting with his son. These things include betrayal by his partner, Billy Wintergreen; being trapped on an island full of mercenaries; nearly dying and having his life saved with a Psycho Serum, Mirakuru; and terrorizing a city and being imprisoned without a trial afterward on the aforementioned island. As of Season 6, Slade is off the island and trying to reunite with his son.
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    B 
  • 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.
  • Believe: Tate didn't even know about Bo before they met, and she had no idea who her father was (her mother having died shortly after her birth).
  • While Beverly Hills, 90210 has its share of missing mothers and is a big practitioner 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.
    • And that's just the reboot. In the original, Kelly's father was mostly missing from her life, while Dylan's father was sent to jail for two seasons before being released, only to get killed in a car bombing in season 3, which was later revealed to have been faked in season 10. Also, Dylan himself would become a Disappeared Dad to his and Kelly's son later on. Additionally, Valerie's father committed suicide shortly before her first appearance on the show before it was revealed that Valerie had actually shot and killed him because he was raping her.
  • Beyond: Invoked in universe as the reason why the Matthews family broke down after Holden's accident, as Tom's grief caused him to withdraw from both Diane and Luke. Frost also abandoned Willa as a baby.
  • Birds of Prey: Batman was this to Helena. In his defense, he didn't know she existed.
  • Black Mirror: In "Ark Angel", Sara's birth is shown, but her father is never mentioned in the whole episode. It's unknown if he died, abandoned her mother or if her mother just underwent an artificial insemination and/or doesn't know who her father is.
  • The Boys (2019):
    • There's no mention of Stillwell's baby's father. Since she got pregnant through IVF, he might just have been an anonymous sperm donor.
    • Starlight's dad left when she was pretty young. At first she believes this was because he lost their money. Then later she suspects it's because he couldn't take how she'd been given superpowers.
    • Mesmer is one to his daughter, who barely knows him. He doesn't have custody of her, but does want more contact. Still, he realizes that isn't really what she wants, and backs away.
    • Homelander is revealed to have been one involuntarily, as he has a secret son.
  • 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.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Jake's father left him and his mother when he was young, and it affected him a lot. Their attempts to reconnect are pretty much unfruitful although it seems it got slightly better by season 5. Holt's father passed away when he was a young teen. Scully's father was apparently a war prisoner in Korea during most of his childhood.
  • 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.

    C 
  • 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 Manchild 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.
  • This happened a few times on Charmed1998.
    • 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.
  • Charmed2018: Macy's dad is dead, while Mel and Maggie’s dad is a deadbeat who doesn't even show up for Christmas with them.
  • 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 secrets.note 
    • 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, who 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.
  • Class:
    • April's father had a mental breakdown and attempted to kill himself by running the family car off the road... only with April and her mother in it along with him. It failed horrifically, causing him to go up for criminal charges of reckless endangerment and resulting in April's mother becoming a paraplegic. April's father did time for this travesty and when he got out of prison, but even though he improved for the better, April was filled with hate toward him for what he did to her and her mother, and nearly killed him in a fit of rage by flexing the powers she inherited from the Shadow Kin and managed to de-paralyze her mother in the process. He eventually reconciled with April, and chose to live away from them until he got all his ducks in a row.
    • Tanya's father suffered a stroke about three years before the series began and died. When an alien impersonated him as bait coinciding with the third-year anniversary of his death, Tanya nearly fell into the trap. Unfortunately, Corakinus completed the set when he ruthlessly murdered Tanya's mother, leaving her and her two older brothers down to their grandparents.
  • Cobra Kai:
    • One of Johnny’s failings based on his son Robby's reactions to him:
    Robby: Don't try to play dad now, you're a pathetic loser.
    • Daniel also mentions losing his father when he was eight.
    • Miguel's dad apparently was into bad stuff, so he his mom took him away while he was pretty young.
    • Johnny grew up with an asshole stepfather, and later mentions never having known his father. It seems this is largely why he never felt equipped to be a father for Robby. He wants to be a better one though.
  • 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, who died in a car accident alongside her mother; 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 (at a much later point, her mom does finally appear, though her dad is still absent).
    • 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.
    • Rossi turns out to be one, but he didn't know until his long-lost daughter arrived at America to find him. His second ex-wife never informed him of her pregnancy and he's unsure how he would have responded if he was told. He subverts this trope by becoming more involved with her life (and her son's).
  • Crossing Lines: Sebastian, through no fault of his own, was one to his son Erik. For the first years of his life, Erik's mother didn't tell Sebastian he existed. When they met again six years after the pair broke up and he grew suspicious about her son's paternity, she admitted he's the father. He's upset, but she tells him it's because he was a gambling addict at the time, nearly making her bankrupt with his debts. So she didn't want him in their son's life, and he understands. After this however he cleans his act up and starts a relationship with his son.
  • CSI's Morgan Brody-Ecklie's dad left when she was 14.

    D 
  • 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.
  • Dear White People: Lionel's dad died before he was six. Even before this he wasn't around, due to having a secret other family he wouldn't leave.
  • In the Decoy episode "The Red Clown," an artist walks out on his family because he can't handle his Soul-Crushing Desk Job. When Casey tracks him down, he tells his five-year-old daughter that he won't be coming home because he needs to paint.
  • Doctor Who:
  • Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman has two:
    • The first is Ethan Cooper, who dragged his wife Charlotte and their kids off to Pike's Peak to strike gold, but when that didn't pan out, he ran out on the family in shame and the townspeople affectionate nicknamed Charlotte a widow to help her mask the failed marriage. When he returned after Charlotte died from a rattlesnake bite, his children had been placed under the care of Michaela Quinn, and eventually, Byron Sully. He got into friction with his children, particularly Matthew, who tried to shield his younger siblings from his deadbeat nature, and their prospective adoptive parents. After fighting their official adoption in court and taking on a new girlfriend, the only one who wanted anything further to do with him was Brian, who decide to write to him every now and then because it upset him to think about forgetting Ethan.
    • Lucius Slicker, Jake Slicker's father, also went out looking for gold. That, and he was a wicked drunk who forgot to send for help when Jake's younger siblings were deathly ill, leading to their demises. Lucius left his wife Eleanor out of guilt, and she took up drinking, far worse then he ever did, abusing her surviving son till the day she died. When Lucius stumbled back into Jake's life many years later, he was going senile and dying, and Jake refused to forgive him for what happened because he thought it was all some bad joke and decided to wait it out until he was dead, until he learned Lucius was truly sorry for what he did so long ago after Brian gave an honest account of Lucius's last moments to Jake (Lucius mistook Brian for Jake and apologized to him as if he were Jake) and left Jake a huge gold nugget as an apology, having actually found gold.

    E 
  • Elementary: Joan Watson's birth father was gone from her life at an early age, though she became close with her stepfather, calling him Dad (he's also where she gets her last name).
  • Euphoria: Rue's dad died of an illness in years past.

    F 
  • Faking It: Amy's dad isn't even mentioned before his appearance, and it turns out that he's mostly absent due to his work, though he pledges to cut down on that so they can spend more time together.
  • 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.
    • Harriet and Rachel's own father abandoned them in their time of need when they were growing up. When he suddenly returned much later when they were fully-grown women, Rachel had nothing against him because she was so young she didn't remember it very well. However, Harriet, the elder sister, was devastated by his departure and it took a lot more love and forgiveness from her father to win her over.
    • Carl's father also died before the start of the series, and his mother eventually remarried in a subplot where the subject bothered him.
  • Fear the Walking Dead:
    • No mention is made of what happened to the father of Nick and Alicia. Travis is trying to blend with the family as the show opens.
    • Travis is himself a disappeared dad to his own family. His own son doesn't even want to visit on Travis' weekend.
  • 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.
  • Frasier: Rick Garrett, the father of Roz's daughter Alice, never once is shown to visit her. While Roz agreed to let him off the hook in terms of raising her as he was only twenty at the time and said she'd keep him updated, this seems surprising. His parents (who had given Roz financial support) only appear once as well.
  • In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode "Papa's Got A Brand New Excuse" Will Smith's dad 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.
    Will: [to Uncle Phil] How come he doesn't want me, man...?
  • Friends: Phoebe's father Frank Buffay ran out on her and her twin sister Ursula when they were babies, leaving their mother and grandmother to raise them. When Phoebe finally decides to track him down she goes to the address and finds he'd started over with a new family...and run out on them too.
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    G 
  • Game of Thrones: Rhaegar Targaryen is revealed to be this to Jon Snow. He died shortly before Jon's birth, while Jon's mother Lyanna Stark died shortly after his birth. However, before she died, she left Jon in the care of her brother Ned Stark, Jon's uncle, who raised Jon as his own child and protected him from the Baratheon regime by hiding his true parentage, as Robert Baratheon would have killed Jon if this ever came out (meanwhile, Jon hasn't the slightest clue of any of this).
  • Girl Meets World: Maya's father has another family and isn't part of her life. Season 1 made appear she had a Missing Mom as well until it's revealed she works a lot of overtime to give her daughter a better life and willingly takes undeserved blame for Dad's disappeared status so Maya wouldn't resent him as much.
  • 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.
  • Good Omens (2019): Adam cites this as a reason for rejecting Satan, his father, saying the latter isn't really his dad as he never took an interest in him before he rejected the plan for Armaggedon.
  • 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.
  • Gotham: Oswald Cobblepot's father is not mentioned before he shows up in Wrath of the Villains: Mad Grey Dawn, his mother having told him he died when Oswald was a baby. It turns out that his father didn't know he existed, as his parents sent Oswald's mother off because they didn't approve of their relationship and told him not to contact her.
  • Guilt: Stan turns out to have been this toward his long-lost daughter.

    H 
  • Any Hallmark Channel movie that features a single parent as one of the protagonists will inevitably reveal that the singledom is the result of them having been widowed. This even applies to the older parents of the lead characters. Presumably, a wholesome family-friendly network like Hallmark doesn't want to touch on the topic of divorce.
  • The Handmaid's Tale: We don't really find out what happened with June's father. He never appears in the scenes of her past, only her mother does. As the only thing she says about him is he was a Catholic (while she's watching a church being demolished), and the regime hangs them, the implications are dire for his fate.
  • 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.
  • 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. For the first 18 months of her life, Claire was raised by her Missing Mom, Meredith Gordon, until a fire happened. As a result, Nathan Petrelli, Claire's Disappeared Dad, and Meredith, Claire's Missing Mom, were told their baby daughter perished in the fire and they believed Claire died. However, her father's parents, Angela and Arthur Petrelli, knew she survived the fire and let Nathan believe his daughter died. Angela and Arthur made arrangements for their granddaughter to be adopted by an agent in their company, Noah Bennet, and continued to watch over Claire from afar. Claire was lovingly raised by her adoptive parents, Noah and Sandra Bennet, and she reconnected with her birth parents, Nathan and Meredith, ultimately resulting in Claire having two fathers and two mothers.
    • 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 knows 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, killed himself six months before the start of the series. As it turns out, not so much. He's the Big Bad of Season 3.
  • Heroes Reborn (2015): Taylor's father is not mentioned before "Company Woman", when we discover he was an Evo who coerced her mother into having sex with him. Then he tried to take Taylor from her after he found out, and Erica killed him. Additionally, Tommy and Malina's birth father hasn't been revealed, as Claire died without telling anyone.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    I 
  • 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.

    J 
  • 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. The search to a head when Harm finally tracked down his location... only to find his old man got killed by his enemies in a Last Stand and was buried somewhere out in the mountains at a gravesite that he'd probably never find, bringing his search to a tearful and poignant end.
    • A much darker version of the trope occurs for Sarah Mackenzie, whose father was an alcoholic who wrought havoc on her and her mother growing up until it forced her mother to split up with him. When Mac learned her father was sick and dying, she was happy about it, and spitefully refused to be at his bedside until it was too late to reconcile, even after her mother came to make peace with him. When Sarah finally gave in to go see him, her father had slipped into an irreversible coma, followed by death, and she tearfully discovered that was the worst mistake she ever made. At least he managed to squeeze his daughter's hand before he went.
    • Then there's a monstrous version of the trope during Season 4 in the form of Charlie Lynch, whose absence is a looming threat because he's an ultra-vindictive thoroughbred psychopath who tortures and murders anyone he thinks did him wrong, including his own five-year-old twin daughters. He beat, burnt, stomped, and strangled one to death for disobeying him, and kept the other, who has mental issues, locked away like a caged animal. Harm's fury at what happened to the slain daughter and the surviving child led him to pursue Charlie for the remainder of Season 4 until Charlie suddenly reappears and kidnaps his remaining girl to torment her for fun, leaving a trail of carnage in his wake. It leads to a final confrontation where Harm is forced to kill him before he kills her or anyone else.
  • Jessica Jones (2015): Trish's abusive, controlling mother is talked of a lot, and makes an appearance later by flashbacks and in the present. Her dad is not mentioned or seen though. There's a strong implication that he may have divorced her. In season 3, it's revealed that he was arrested after beating Trish's mother - with a young Trish claiming it was her he beat - and that she never saw him again after that.

    K 
  • Wataru Kurenai of Kamen Rider Kiva has a missing father, Otoya Kurenai. 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.
  • Kit Taylor/Kamen Rider Dragon Knight has been missing his father for a year at the start of the story. Inittially, he thought that his father simply abandoned him. Things get slightly more complicated with the revelation that Frank Taylor was kidnapped by Xaviax and rendered comatose, moving Kit's plans from finding him to finding a cure for him. Kit also lost his mother in car crash at the age of 14 or so, but that's as much as we get to know.
  • Kiss Me First: There is no mention of Leila's father, but he's certainly out of the picture. This makes it easy for Adrian to pretend to be him to Jonty.
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    L 
  • 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.
  • 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 killed his mother and then himself.
    • 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 forgave 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...
      • The father of her son, Aaron, abandoned them, too.
    • 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.

    M 
  • The Magicians: Both Kady and Harriet turn out to have a lot of conflicts with their mothers. No mention/appearance of their fathers though so far.
  • On Mash, Radar mentions that his father had him at 63 and died when he was young-although later episodes seem to contradict this.
  • The titular character of Merlin would seem to have been raised by his mother alone. His father is only revealed later in the show, and they have a touching exchange. Until of course, he dies at the end of the episode. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
  • The Messengers: Vera was a single mother prior to her son being kidnapped. It turns out that his father was her ex, Leo, whom she had been about to tell she was pregnant when he'd told her he had Huntington's Disease, which is hereditary, then broke up with her. After that she didn't tell him. He isn't pleased to find out she kept this from him later when Vera reveals that he's a father.
  • Miami Vice: Crockett himself becomes one after his ex-wife and son are almost killed by a hitman early in the first season and he decides that they will be safer without him. His son is pretty resentful about it when he finally gets back in touch three years later.
  • The Middleman 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.
  • Midnight Caller: When Jack Killian was seven, his father went out to buy a pack of cigarettes and never returned, leaving the family $486 and an overdue rent bill.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Christy's daughter, Violet, keeps asking about her father, who vanished when Christy was pregnant. Bonnie finally relates that the reason Christy never talks about him is because he used to beat her. Christy takes Violet to a grave to talk about how it hurt and she wants it buried with him. As soon as Violet walks off, Bonnie asks Christy "so whose grave is this?" indicating that Violet's dad is alive but Christy prefers she think him dead so not to look for him.
  • Monk's father was, until recently, a Disappeared Dad. He is still not the greatest at fatherhood, but he's trying.
  • 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.

    N 
  • Narcos: The father of Maritza's daughter isn't mentioned or seen. Pablo's own father also doesn't get a single mention before he hides out in his farm in the second season. It's quickly made clear they aren't that close, and possibly have been estranged for some time (his parents apparently divorced or separated). His father finally tells Pablo that he's completely ashamed to have him as a son, prompting him to leave.
  • No Tomorrow: Xavier's father was one of the "emotionally absent" kinds to him, and they haven't spoken for years. Now doing so is one of the items on his bucket list.

    O 
  • Richard Blake in Open Heart, who's disappearance is the driving force behind the plot as his daughter tries to find him.
  • The Orville: Downplayed Example. While Claire is a single mother with two sons, her responses to Isaac's questions about two-parent families and her decision to have children reveals that she "never found a man I wanted to have them with" implying she never intended for a "dad" to be a necessary part of her family structure.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • In "Black Box", Lt. Colonel Brandon Grace abandoned his wife Karen and his daughter Cammie, which later causes him to feel severe guilt.
    • In "Promised Land" Tali's mother was killed offscreen. Her mother's lover from the previous episode, whom we presume is Tali's father, doesn't appear though, leaving his fate unknown.

    P 
  • The Partridge Family: Shirley Jones' character was a widowed mother of five. The group's manager Reuben Kincaid sometimes acted as a father figure.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • He is adopted by Anton Mercer and that's where things get complicated.
  • 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.
  • Power Rangers Dino Charge: When Tyler Navarro first appears, he is searching for his father who disappeared ten years prior the start of the story. He continues to find clues about him until they reunite in Dino Super Charge. As it turns out, James Navarro had to abandon his family because he bonded to the Aqua Energem and was pursued by Fury .
  • Power Rangers Ninja Steel has a nearly carbon copy of this. Brody Romero lost his father in fight against Galvanax also around ten years ago. Unlike Dino Charge, nothing suggest that he is still alive.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Q 
  • In Quantico Alex's father died in her childhood at her own hand, defending her mother. Shelby's father was killed in the 9/11 terrorist attack, along with her mother.

    R 
  • Raven's Home:
    • Downplayed with Devon. He and Raven are separate from the start, however they're Amicable Exes and he's still an active part in his children's lives. Even after he gets Put On The Bus a few episodes in, Devon's kids still reference him.
    • Chelsea's ex-husband Garrett is in jail due to tax fraud charges, leaving her to raise her son Levi alongside her Childhood Friend Raven.
  • Reba kicks off with Dad running off with his secretary; the two later show up and become regulars (much to Reba's annoyance).
  • On Remington Steele it is mentioned that Laura's father left the family when she was young. This, along with at least two boyfriends and Murphy leaving her leads to her having ssevere trust and abandonment issues.

    S 
  • 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.
  • Sense8: Capheus's father died when he was a little boy.
  • The Shannara Chronicles: It turns out that Allanon is one to his daughter Mareth, whom he never knew existed.
  • Sharp Objects: Camille's wayward father is The Ghost and never named. Her mother's hatred of him affects her relationship with Camille. By Camille's comments, she's never had any contact with him and it's unclear if anyone even knows what became of him.
  • The Sinner: Julian's mom says his father "isn't in the picture". His dad is, in fact, Jack Novack.
  • Marti's father's disappearance in Slingers is her primary motivation for joining with the rest of the crew.
  • In Snowfall, Franklin's dad left his mother years ago, and is apparently living on the streets. Franklin has seen the old man around, but he refuses to reconcile, as he hasn't forgiven his dad for disappearing and thus forcing him and Cissie to fend for themselves.
  • 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?
  • B'elanna Torres' human father left her and her mother when she was a child, while the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Lineage" reveals how it happened. It would be years before she and her father would talk to each other again in "Author, Author".
  • 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.
  • Stranger Things: One of many thematic references to Spielberg.
    • Will and Jonathan's father, Lonnie. He's been living in Indianapolis for some time and makes little effort to stay in touch. During one flashback, Joyce is heard yelling at him for breaking a promise to take Will to a baseball game over the phone, and we soon learn that he only wanted to because he wanted Will to be a "normal" kid. He shows up only after Will's apparent death, and then Joyce finds out he's trying to cash in with a lawsuit.
    • Mike's father is in the picture but is generally depicted as a useless dolt whose wife picks up all of the slack for him.
    • There's also no mention of whether or not anyone even knows who Eleven's father may be, and Dr. Brenner is far from a proper surrogate. Although a bit of framing in Season 2 does imply that, with Brenner around, El's dad may be closer than first thought... In the prequel Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds, it's revealed that Brenner had him sent to Vietnam before she was born so he'd be out of the way, and he's killed there.
    • We never see Dustin's dad despite seeing his mom in Season 2.
    • Averted with Lucas's dad, who seems on the ball... in his way. Played for laughs, as the Sinclairs clearly have a stable Nuclear Family otherwise.
  • 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 5 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.
    • In "Free To Be You And Me", Dean hauls Castiel off to a brothel to lose his virginity. Castiel gets invited into a backroom with one of the girls. Moments later she runs out of the room shouting obscenities at him. Cas apparently read her mind, and casually told her it wasn't her fault her dad left her family when she was little.
      Dean: The whole industry runs on absent fathers. It's the natural order.
  • Switched at Birth: Bay's biological father, Angelo. She's not happy about this. He eventually shows up out of the blue in the midseason finale, after reading about the switch in a newspaper. Then disappears again. Then comes back. You can understand why Regina told him she wants off his roller coaster of comings and goings. Before this, he'd also left after Daphne was born, rightly suspecting she wasn't really his daughter given that she looked distinctly different from both him and Regina.

    T 
  • Teen Wolf: Scott's absent father. He comes back in Season 3, and it's revealed that Melissa told him to leave after he got drunk and accidentally pushed Scott down the stairs.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles has the same Disappeared Dad as the movie from which it spawned.
  • Timeless: It turns out that Denise Christopher's father was killed during a robbery, after which she was helped by a female police officer, which inspired her to become a cop as well.
  • The Twilight Zone (2019): In "Replay" Nina appears to be a single mother, since Dorian's father isn't on the road with them, nor is he even mentioned.
  • 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.

    U 
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: The title character never met her father, though knows that his name starts with either an "S" or a "5". Meanwhile, Titus was raised by five aunts with no mention of what happened to his parents.
  • Ultraman Dyna: Shin Asuka's father vanished in "an unknown light" while flying through space. They reunite in the finale when Asuka sacrifices himself to defeat the Gransphere.

    V 
  • 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.
  • Vida: Emma and Lyn’s father is only mentioned once briefly-apparently he was deported to Mexico, but there's no indication of them being in contact with him since.
  • 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.

    W 
  • The Walking Dead: Poor Glenn becomes this thanks to being murdered before his child is even born.
  • Whiskey Cavalier: In "Five Spies And A Baby", the team returns little Will (really Kosta) to his mother. She's apparently single though-there's no sign his father is involved, since he never appears or gets mentioned.
  • Whitechapel: Miles's father, who worked for the Krays. For most of his life Miles assumes that he just left, and it's not until Buchan investigates further that he realizes his father died because he wasn't willing to offer up his son to Ronnie Kray.
  • Wings started with the Brothers Hackett reuniting thanks to the posthumous machinations of their prankster father. Ended in a similar fashion, as well.
  • Witches of East End: Ingrid and Freya's father isn't mentioned until S01E08, when it's stated he's been gone for over a century, making this an extreme case. Due to their born again immortality Ingrid and Freya have never seen him before in their present lives, nor in most of their past ones going back centuries. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ingrid is bitter with him over this, although Freya warms up more quickly. It's somewhat different because Joanna asked him to leave, and thus he's upset that she told his daughters he'd abandoned them.

    X 
  • In The X-Files, Mulder must leave behind Scully and their newborn son, William, to go into hiding.

    Y 
  • Years and Years:
    • The Lyons siblings are estranged from their father, who left their mother and started a new family.
    • Rosie has two children with absent fathers - Lee's dad is married with children but sends money regularly, Lincoln's dad moved back to Beijing.
  • You:
    • Beck has issues with this, by her own admission, because her dad left the family after divorcing her mom to marry his sober coach who he'd met while giving up drugs. She is apparently the only one of his three children who he still even has contact with. Their relationship seems to consist of him paying for rent and her college tuition to a certain degree, along with occasional visits. She now pretends he's dead with most people. Her step mom likes to guilt-trip Beck over allegedly only using him as a cash machine, and having not been religious enough to keep him from getting into drugs, which explains why she doesn't visit him more. Beck's clearly jealous because his two stepchildren see her dad far more than she does, and then learning her step mom is going to have a baby just makes her feel worse.
    • We never learn where Paco's father is, but his mom's now single and has an abusive boyfriend. She later says he deserves better, hoping to find a good father figure for him.
  • 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.


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