Follow TV Tropes


Disappeared Dad / Live-Action TV

Go To

Disappeared Dads in Live-Action TV.

    open/close all folders 

  • 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.
  • Accused (2023): In "Jack's Story", Clara's father left her when she was little, after wracking a lot of debt up. Unfortunately, her stepfather sexually abused her after replacing him.
  • 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.
  • All American: Spencer's father Corey (played by Chad L. Coleman) who left his family when Spencer was a kid. It later turns out that he left due to his wife cheating on him with Billy.
  • In Alphas, the father of Skyler's daughter Zoe is never mentioned, nor his absence explained.
  • Amazing Stories (2020): In "Signs Of Life" Alia never knew her father, she tells Sara, her mom (who's lost memory of her life). It was always simply them, but she's fine with that.
  • American Gods: Originally Shadow isn't aware of who his father is, due to his mother having been quite promiscuous (eighty six sexual partners in her life, according to Mr. World). Eventually he learns Mr. Wednesday is his father.
  • 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.
  • Avocado Toast: Elle's birth father abandoned her when she was little (younger than three) and Elle hasn't seen him since. She's not interested to, since she has a loving dad in Roger, her mom's husband.

  • The Baby-Sitters Club (2020): Kirsty's biological father, Patrick Thomas, abandoned his wife and four children and almost never calls or writes. This is something that upsets Kristy very much, and she resents how other fathers whom she sees (even the divorced ones) are involved with their kids' lives.
  • 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.
  • Better Things:
    • Xander is somewhat present as he sees his kids occasionally, but more often than not is absent from their lives. This causes no small amount of anger from them and Sam.
    • Sam's dad Murray died of a heart attack in the past, but his shadow still looms over her. His spirit (real or imagined) also shows up repeatedly.
    • Phyllis' father was, according to her, barely involved in her or her siblings' lives as well (although he never divorced her mother, given it was not done often in that era).
  • 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.
  • Part of the backstory of Howard Wolowitz from The Big Bang Theory is that his father left him and Mrs. Wolowitz back when Howard was 11. Then there's Sheldon's father George Cooper, who died when Sheldon was 14.
  • The Big Leap: Gabby never told anyone who Sam's father is. In the fifth episode we find out he was her high school English teacher who took advantage of her, then cut her off when he found out about the pregnancy, and she's been ashamed ever since.
  • Big Little Lies: Jane tells the others Ziggy's father isn't involved. He never was in fact, as they weren't really ever together.
  • Big Sky:
    • Cody is murdered in the pilot, with his son Justin left behind.
    • Andrew Dewell, Cassie's husband and the father of Kai, was killed serving in Afghanistan.
  • Birds of Prey (2002): Helena Kyle grew up without a dad, because her father Bruce Wayne didn't know she existed. Maybe he should have realized the consequences of (literally) Dating Catwoman.
  • The Bisexual: Discussed by Sadie with her mom. Her mom thinks single mothers by choice are selfish. Sadie didn't have a dad (we don't learn why, just that this wasn't her mom's choice), as she notes when trying to tell her mom that she's becoming one (as a lesbian who's looking into sperm donors).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Blindspotting: Miles, Ashley and Janelle's dads abandoned them, while Trish's simply donated sperm then wasn't involved, it's revealed by Rainey.
  • 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.
  • Brave New World: John never knew his father, who left his mother after she became pregnant. When they do meet, it doesn't end well.
  • 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).
    • 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.
  • Burden of Truth:
    • Luna says her father abandoned her mother immediately when she got pregnant. Later it turns out that he's also Joanna's father.
Owen's birth father died when he was 5. However, he did have a loving stepfather.
  • Joanna's father is murdered in Season 2.
  • Kodie is a single mother, with one of her daughters' fathers being dead, the other uninvolved.

  • The Cape:
    • Vince. A particularly sad example as he was a clear example of a doting father, but having to fake his own death makes it that much more painful.
    • Inverted with Flemming who has been shown looking for his long lost daughter. She's revealed to be Orwell, who's fighting everything he stands for and declares him no longer her father.
  • 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 Charmed (1998).
    • 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.
  • Charmed (2018): Macy's dad is dead, while Mel and Maggieís dad is a deadbeat who doesn't even show up for Christmas with them.
  • Chasing Life: April, Brenna and Natalie's dad, who died in a car accident a few years before the series starts. Season two reveals he killed himself due to having ALS.
  • Frasier states in the Cheers episode "Two Girls for Every Boyd" that his father was a deceased research scientist that, even when alive, would often neglect him in favor of his experiments. This is in comparison to his mother, Hester, who he still had a close (perhaps too close) relationship with. Curiously, this got flipped around in Frasier, where his father, Martin, was retconned into being a very much alive ex-cop who moves in with Frasier in the first episode, and Hester was stated to have died years ago.
  • El Chavo del ocho: Quico's dad, Don Federico, was once a sailor who died at sea (eaten by a shark according to Quico, which is why he says "Rest in fish" instead of "Rest in peace") when his ship sank.
  • 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.
  • In the backstory of Coach, Luther's father disappeared in 1942. In one episode, Hayden finds him.
  • Cobra Kai:
    • One of Johnnyís 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.
  • The Company You Keep: Ollie's dad hasn't been in her life for a decade it turns out. Birdie, her mom, rejects his call saying having been absent so long he's too late for reconnecting.
  • Control Z: Sofia's father died when she was fairly young. It later turns out he'd just faked his death and only came back into her life years later secretly.
  • Coop & Cami Ask the World: Coop and Cami's father passed away some time before the show.
  • 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.

  • 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:
  • Drake & Josh: Drake and Megan's biological father left the family before the series began and is never even mentioned.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • Evil (2019): Kristenís husband is away leading mountain climbing tours overseas when the series starts, but he returns later.

  • 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.
  • Andreas from Fate: The Winx Saga died when his son Sky was little. Supposedly. He actually faked his death after Silva stabbed 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.
  • Feel Good:
    • George's dad is mentioned but unseen until halfway through season 2, when she calls him out on disappearing..
    • Laura's difficult relationship with her mother is given much attention. No mention of her father though. Since her mother was a drug addict at the time, it's possible they don't know who he is.
  • 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.
  • A French Village: Jean relates that he didn't have a father growing up, so he's determined to be in his son's life. However, as his son's mother is a Jew (plus their boy, by Nazi racial laws) they must flee for Switzerland. Then after they meet again, she doesn't want Jean around and he's also a wanted fugitive, so this doesn't really work out.
  • In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode "Papa's Got A Brand New Excuse" Will's dad shows up after abandoning him and his mother years ago. He gets Will's hopes up about spending time together, but then splits again, leaving Will in tears in one of Will Smith's biggest dramatic moments on the show. There was an entirely untrue myth floating around social media stating that Smith was channeling his feelings towards his own disappeared dad. In reality, Smith has had a healthy relationship with his father his entire life; the scene simply came from being a good actor.
  • 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 ran out on them too.
  • Played straight in the reboot, Fuller House and gender-inverted in the main series. The main series starts off with DJ, Stephanie and Michelle's mother having passed away and their father, Danny, needing help from his close friend, Joey and brother-in-law, Jesse, raising them, with the cause of death being revealed in the final season that she was killed by a drunk driver. Later, in the reboot, DJ is grown up with three sons of her own, and her husband having died while on the job as a firefighter. Why can't Death quit screwing over the Tanner family?

  • 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).
  • The George Lopez Show: George's father Manny abandoned him and his mother Benny when George was two. Benny lied and told George that his father was dead and George wouldn't learn the truth until he was an adult. Between his father leaving him and his mother neglecting and abusing him, George has quite a few issues. George eventually tracks Manny down, but just as he's starting to build a relationship with his father, Manny died of kidney disease and requested that George not attend his funeral in order to protect his reputation, a request which forever tarnished any positive feelings George ever had for Manny.
  • On Gilmore Girls, Rory's father and Lorelai's ex, Christopher, is disappeared for most of Rory's life, disinterested in having contact with his daughter if Lorelai isn't also on the table. They talk on the phone and sometimes see each other at holidays, but it isn't until Rory is in college that Chris realizes he's missed out on everything and tries to reconnect (consistent with his character, this is during his brief marriage to Lorelai). Rory is pretty much over it at that point. In the revival, they're estranged, and it's implied he is also a Disappeared Dad to his younger daughter, Rory's half-sister GG. Luke's nephew Jess is in a similar situation, though his father his completely disappeared from his life until he suddenly crashes into it at age eighteen.
  • Ginny and Georgia:
    • Ginny's dad Zion is a photographer who's usually off somewhere doing that and having adventures, while he keeps in steady contact with her and sends Ginny regular gifts. He comes to visit in "Check One, Check Other" and now also wants to stick around. At least part of the issue is shown as being Georgia's fault, as we see she took off with Ginny in past. He later leaves again, saying it's what Georgia wants, which she doesn't really deny. Ginny of course is really upset about this. They begin spending more time together in Season 2 though.
    • Meanwhile Austin's dad's in prison, because Georgia framed him for embezzlement and fraud. It turns out that Georgia's been keeping Austin's letters instead of sending them, and forging Gil's. Later he and Ginny find out, to Ginny's outrage. It turns out that Georgia told him Gil's a wizard in Azkaban. He comes back in Season 2 though, eager to have a lot of time with Austin (more than Georgia likes, given their bad history).
  • 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.
    • Bridget Pike, a.k.a. Firefly, had her mother and stepfather. No mention of her father.
  • Grange Hill: Cathy Hargreaves had never known her father, and believed him to be dead. Trouble ensues when he suddenly turns up, wanting to see Cathy and her brother Gary.
    Gary: You didn't have to tell us he was dead, did you?
    Mrs Hargreaves: I didn't know, did I? He might have been, for all I knew. I didn't want to raise your hopes.
  • Guilt: Stan turns out to have been this toward his long-lost daughter.

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • iCarly (2021): Millicent's biological father is dead, with Freddie being her stepfather and sharing custody with her mother Gwen.
  • The I-Land: Chase's mother makes up the center of her flashbacks. Her father is entirely unmentioned and unseen though.
  • Impulse: Henry's dad left when she was very young, and she's not happy with her mom having many boyfriends after him. It later turns out her dad didn't go voluntarily but for far more sinister reasons, with Henry trying to find out what happened.
  • In From the Cold: Jenny's ex-husband isn't very present in their daughter Becca's life. Even before they divorced, Becca says he never showed up for her events, and this continues after the divorce, to her bitterness.
  • Intergalactic:
    • Ash's father is a war hero who was declared dead. Right before being sent to a penal colony, she laments that her mother is now losing her too. It turns out he isn't dead though, and wants to have Ash all for himself.
    • Genevieve's father beat her mother, who killed him to stop it.
  • Into the Dark: In "Blood Moon" Luna's father is dead when the story begins, and only appears in flashbacks. It's revealed he'd been killed by Esme after getting loose and transforming into a wolf, attacking her.

  • 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.
  • Just Shoot Me!:
    • One of Maya's major problems throughout the series is that Jack was a really horrible father when she was growing up and was never ever around. There's quite a few moments throughout the series where Jack lets her down.
    • Finch's dad, uber-masculine firefighter Red, was the emotionally absent kind, as they didn't connect at all. When he appears, Red's awkward efforts to repair their relationship usually just mortify Finch.

  • 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.

  • La Brea: The Castillo sisters lose their dad to a wolf in the pilot.
  • L.A.'s Finest: Joseph Vaughn, Sydney and Marcusís father, was absent for most of the two's childhood after their mom had left him. It turns out he tried to be involved, with their mom making him stay away (even calling the cops). He was also estranged from their half-sister as well, who he had with another woman, until her twenties.
  • Let the Right One In: Isaiah's dad is a deadbeat alcoholic who's in and out of his life, to his mom's anger. She goes along with their having contact though for his sake. He's murdered soon after being introduced.
  • 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.
  • Little Fires Everywhere: In the series Pearl's dad isn't around, though Mia won't tell her much about him or why this had happened (he'd left when Pearl was an infant apparently), just he wasn't interested in being a parent. It turns out this is a lie-Mia stole Pearl. She was the surrogate for him and his infertile wife.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Theo's father vanished without a trace several years prior to the series, with malicious rumors saying it was out of disgust at his wife's attraction to Arondir. Theo doesn't take kindly to those rumors and flies into a rage.
  • 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 — He 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 — He 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 — He seeks to be a success and is ashamed of his father, a poor, uneducated fisherman, who also 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 — She wants to run away from her crime boss father. She later out-gambits him and takes control of the business.
  • Lovecraft Country: Ji-Ah was born out of wedlock, with her birth father not being mentioned, but as her mother married another man later he's clearly absent.
  • The L Word: Gneration Q: Angelica decides to meet her birth father Marcus Allenwood who conceived her via sperm donation and had no part of her upbringing (originally he'd agreed on this only after she'd reached 18). Tragically, it turns out he's dying, expiring the day before their meeting. She still gets a painting he'd made for her at least.

  • The Magicians (2016): 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 M*A*S*H, Radar mentions that his father was in his 60s when he was born and died when he was a toddler. It doesn't seem to affect him that much, but it does make him that much closer to other father figures in his life, most notably Henry Blake and his uncle Ed.
  • 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 Mick: Mickey's boyfriend Dante relates that his father left during his childhood. When other guys interested in her hire an old man to pretend that he's the father to distract Dante so they can get her, Dante angrily beats his "dad" up for abandoning him.
  • 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.
  • Midnight Sun (2016):
    • Anders' father left his mother after he was conceived, going off to Australia for work. It appears they've never met.
    • Evalina's father, an alcoholic, died early on. She later viewed Forsberg as a father figure, and this then became more, as she'd gotten pregnant by him by the time of her death.
  • 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.
  • Motherland: Fort Salem: Tally's father isn't seen nor mentioned, only her mother. Her upbringing means he likely wasn't around to begin with.
  • The Murders: Kate's father was also a police officer killed on duty. This overshadows her, as her mother opposes her career choice fearing that she'll end up the same way, and fellow cops frequently mention him positively in relation with her.
  • My Left Nut: Mick's dad died of motor neurone disease when he was very young, so Mick struggles with many of the things that fathers teach their sons while growing up, such as not knowing how to shave properly.
  • In My Mad Fat Diary, Raeís 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.

  • 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.
  • Never Have I Ever: Mohan dies of a heart attack in the first episode. Afterward, Devi's traumatized by it, suffering hysterical paralysis in her legs, therefore having to use a wheelchair for a year) and seeing a therapist. However, she doesn't really want to move on despite others' advice, because it would mean he's gone for good. She finally does at the end of the first season, scattering his ashes with her mom.
  • Next (2020):
    • Paul has become estranged from his daughter Abby. His declining mental health, and efforts to hide it from her, has not helped their relationship.
    • CM left behind a son when he left Rockridge. The mother is still involved with the white supremacists, and thus refuses to let CM have any contact with their son.
    • Shea's father turns out to be a criminal who had been imprisoned in Honduras for twenty years until Next has released him so he'd go after her. From her statements, she was glad he'd been gone, and it's not too hard to see why given he's a violent, abusive man.
  • Nos4a 2: Craig is killed before he even knows he's gotten Vic pregnant, leaving her to raise their baby. However, Carmody becomes his dad after this.
  • Noughts & Crosses: Ryan is killed in prison, leaving Callum and Jude bereft of him.

  • Richard Blake in Open Heart, who's disappearance is the driving force behind the plot as his daughter tries to find him.
  • Orange Is the New Black: It's mentioned that Daya's father abandoned her when she was just two. Bennett also abandons her and their child after meeting the dysfunctional relatives who would raise it. We don't see or hear anything of Maritza's baby's father, so it's safe to assume he's not around. Given she was on drugs and it was "crazy" at the time, Maritza might even not know who he is for sure.
  • 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 Outpost: Ilyin only mentions her mother when recounting her past.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • 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.
    • In "Black Box", Lt. Colonel Brandon Grace abandoned his wife Karen and his daughter Cammie, which later causes him to feel severe guilt.
    • In "Replica", Nora Griffiths was abandoned by her father when she was a little girl. As a result, she found it very difficult to trust people until she met her future husband Zach.
  • More or less a theme in Once Upon a Time:
    • Emma grew up an orphan, though it's shown from the start that her father, David, was forced to give her up.
    • David himself, with his father.
    • Snow White, as the known fairytale goes.
    • Rumplestiltskin, in one of the harshest ways of the show: His father practically pushed him to the hands of a magical shadow that took him away, ignoring young Rumple's pleas.
    • The circle would continue with himself, in a moment of panic, abandoning his own son.
    • And once more, as Neal didn't even know about the son he had.
    • Jefferson, who is forced to stay away from his daughter due to the curse that changed her memories about who her real father was.
    • Killian Jones aka Hook, in arguably the cruelest way the show depicted: His father didn't just abandon him and his brother, he also traded the young boys into servitude in order to procure a means of escaping the authorities that were after him.
    • Season 7's Ella.
    • Season 7's Alice, though her father was also forced to stay away from her due to a curse that could kill him if he stepped close to her or touched her.

  • Parks and Recreation: Itís never made clear if Ronís third wife Diane is divorced or widowed, but either way her daughterís biological father doesnít appear to be in the picture.
  • 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.
  • Perry Mason (2020): Perry is largely absent in his son's life, causing his ex-wife to flatly tell him he isn't really a father. His son is closer with his stepfather as a result by far. Perry does appear to feel bad about this, but only sees him rarely.
  • Persons Unknown: Janet's husband left her when she got pregnant, and had no contact with her or their daughter after that.
  • The Pillars of the Earth: Jack's father was killed when he was a little boy.
  • Pitch (2016): Mike's father wasn't present in his life growing up.
  • 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.

  • 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. Except not.

  • 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.
  • The Republic of Sarah:
    • Sarah and Danny's dad disappeared years ago. He reappears in "Sanctuary", revealing that he left the family because he felt unfit to be a father.
    • Danny himself is suspected to be this for Josh by Josh's mother Corinne. A DNA test was done and Sarah tells Corrine that Adam is the father of Josh, but she later admits that she lied, and that Danny is the father.
    • Luis was this to Maya, though through no fault of his own. He tried to find her after learning about Maya for years, though it wasn't possible.
  • Reservation Dogs: Bear's dad hasn't seen him in two years, is constantly bailing on visits with him and his mom, and he needs a reminder for what age Bear is.
  • The Rookie (2018): Nolan's father abandoned his mother and him during his childhood.

  • Search:
    • Dong-jin doesn't have a father. Turns out his father is the other infected person living in the DMZ — otherwise known as Jo Min-guk.
    • Ye-rim's father was the murderer. She only discovers this after his death.
  • 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.
  • Sex/Life: Brad's dad left him when he was 8. He sent records and cards after for years, though eventually they also stopped. It clearly affected him deeply. Later we learn he did meet his dad, and the pair had some good time together. His dad was dying, and explained how he'd left because of being on drugs at the time. Before this, he had grave issues about fatherhood after Billie got pregnant, and acted poorly to her when she miscarried.
  • Shades of Blue: Harlee tells her daughter Christine when she asks that her father didn't want to be a part of their lives. It turns out she's lying though-he was a criminal who abused Harlee, and she framed him for murder to get rid of the guy. However, his conviction is eventually revealed as wrongful, he's released and learns that he has a daughter. After learning about the lie, Christine no longer trusts what Harlee tells her of him and gets closer to her father, despite Harlee's dismay. Harlee eventually kills him when he attacks her.
  • 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.
  • Single Drunk Female: In "New York" Sam and her mom both express sorrow at the loss of her dad, who's already dead by the present. "Higher Parent" sees them both scatter her dad's ashes. Sam also has a dream about him and speaks to him in it.
  • 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.
  • Someday or One Day: Chen Yun Ru's father shows up only once after she is released from the hospital. Even after he and his wife tell their children they're divorcing, he never shows up in the narrative again even during situations when it would make sense like visiting Yun Ru's grave, which her mom and brother do.
  • Stargirl: Courtney's father has been gone for years. While she has a very romantic notion of him, her mother reminds Courtney he rarely visited even before disappearing. On discovering Starman's staff, Courtney starts to think he might have been her father, citing their similar appearances and the fact they disappeared/died on the same day. Pat is skeptical because he knew Starman personally and Courtney's father went by a different name. Despite her mother insisting her father was no hero when she asks about it, Courtney is convinced that he was Starman and introduces herself as his daughter to her opponents and teammates. It's later confirmed that Sam Kurtis, her actual father, is indeed alive and a different individual entirely, meaning Courtney was wrong when she assumed "Sam Kurtis" was simply an alias of Starman's. He then briefly reappears, disappointing her deeply, and disappears again.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • Worf is largely this to Alexander, who spends most of his childhood living with Worf's parents. What makes it worse is that Alexander does come to live with Worf for a few years during Next Generation, only for Worf to then send him back to his grandparents after he's gotten used to living with his father. By the time he turns up on the Rotarran, he's so resentful of Worf that he introduces himself as "Alexander Rozhenko, of no house", instead of "Alexander, son of Worf". The pair later reconcile.
    • 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?
  • In Star Trek: Voyager, B'Elanna Torres' human father left her and her mother when she was a child; the episode "Lineage" reveals that he did it because he couldn't deal with living with Klingons anymore (a comment which B'Elanna unfortunately overheard and which shaped a great deal of how she came to view her Klingon heritage). It would be years before she and her father would talk to each other again, in "Author, Author".
  • Star Trek: Picard: Elnor, growing up in the company of warrior nuns, gets Jean-Luc Picard as a substitute father, who then disappears for almost a decade and a half. Picard's brushing off of Elnor's gift of freshly baked bread, and then requesting his help as a bodyguard, only serves to increase Elnor's annoyance at his return.
  • 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. This was later retconned into Carol's first husband having divorced Carol, and having no apparent contact with any of his kids.
  • 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. Itís also heavily implied that he abused Jonathan growing up, too.
    • 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. Itís implied that they divorced when he was fairly young. Dustin doesnít seem to bothered by it.
    • Maxís dad still lives in California (her tie in book reveals that he lives in Los Angeles) and she misses seeing him. She does have her stepfather, but they donít get along.
    • 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.
  • Supergirl (2015):
    • Ruby Arias' father is not involved with her life at all. The circumstances are unclear, however as her mother was a teenager when she had Ruby, he likely was as well and didn't want to be responsible.
    • Amadei Derros was unwilling absent in his daughter Elizabeth Hawkings' life for years, as her mother Natalie kept them apart. She became so bitter over them breaking up she'd not only kept the fact he had a daughter from him, but told Elizabeth they had a one night stand and he was a deadbeat dad. After Elizabeth learned of him and wrote him letters, she intercepted all his replies to make him seem uninterested. Elizabeth is enraged and disowns her on finding this out, before meeting Amadei.
  • In Superman & Lois, Clark is this to his sons Jonathan and Jordan. The problem was that, up until the series started, neither he nor Lois sat their kids down to explain that their dad was Superman, thus him disappearing at times took a serious blow to their mental outlook, especially poor Jordan, who is diagnosed with Social Anxiety.
  • 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.
    • Claire Novak must cope with the disappearance of her once loving father twice. The first time, she has no idea that he went off to become an angel's vessel. The second time, she does know why he left and deals with the burden that he did so to spare her the same fate. When Castiel later meets her as a sullen teenager, she's clearly still traumatized.
    • 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. Then he disappeared for good, dying of a cerebral hemmorhage caused by injuries he received from a car accident.

  • Ted Lasso: Ted Lasso's father committed suicide when Ted was 16.
  • 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.
  • Time After Time: John never knew his father, since he was born to a prostitute. He also discovers he's sired a son who he'd never known about, the man's mother having kept this from him. John sets off to rescue him in the past but this only changes how he dies.
  • 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.
  • Trinkets: Moe's dad left when she was little, and hasn't been in contact with her for years. Later, it turns out he was in prison and contacts her when he's released. He arranges to meet with her, but then stands up Moe. He later arrives unexpectedly for Thanksgiving. She gives him a cold shoulder and tells him off. Her dad apologizes, and he pledges to be there more.
  • Trotsky: Trotsky is largely absent in his children's lives, emotionally or physically, which Sergei expresses resentment of.
  • Twenties: Hattie mentions at one point that her dad left years ago. It turns out that she hasn't seen him for ten years. Her dad then shows up out of the blue and wants to reconnect. It goes awkwardly, though they part on friendly, bittersweet terms.
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Vagrant Queen: Elida's father, King Albor, was killed by her mother Xevelyn so she could take the throne (which Elida actually had no desire for).
  • In VR Troopers, Tyler Steele, Ryan's dad, was turned into Dark Heart by Grimlord.
    • In Chōjinki 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.

  • Walker, Texas Ranger loves this trope, and it can and will overlap from time to time with Missing Mom. Many of the minor characters in the series, oftentimes the Victim of the Week, are dealt with this, but the strongest example of all is the eponymous Texas Ranger, whose parents were killed by a trio of white supremacists when he was 12 years old, and would go on to hunt down and arrest one of the men who did it in Season 4's "Final Justice".
    • Zigzagged and gender-inverted with Alex. Alex grew up with her mother, who later passed away, and had a lot of clashes with her father, Gordon, because of his alcoholism and abandoning his family as a result. The two later make up in Season 5's "Redemption", and then he returns to defend her when she is accused of murdering her ex-boyfriend, who was the defense attorney in her current trial, several episodes later in "Texas Vs. Cahill" (the real murderer turns out to be her current defendant, Lane Tillman), and then, attended hers and Walker's wedding in Season 8's "Wedding Bells", despite being injured by an assassin who tried to kill her.
    • Along with the titular policeman, there's also recurring character Trent Malloy, whose father, Thunder, passed away during the events of Season 5's "Sons of Thunder". As the eldest of his siblings, he would go on to serve as a second father to his younger siblings: Tommy, Tandi and Tyler.
    • Examples of minor and/or one-time characters dealing with this issue include:
      • The Reno siblings, Dana and Keith, in Season 3's "War Zone" lost their mother, Molly, before the events of the episode. Dana, a Texas State Trooper desiring to be a Ranger like her father, Logan (who is a close friend and ex-partner of Walker), often acts as a second mom to her kid brother, Keith, but eventually has to play both roles of mother and father when Logan is killed by the Villain of the Week, Mitch Bolton, while trying to stop one of his high-profile robberies. While helping Dana and Keith cope with their loss, Walker sets out to find and arrest the people who killed Logan.
      • Season 4's "Deadline": Played straight and gender-inverted with Lyle Eckert, the main villain of the episode, having been raised by his Evil Uncle and grew from juvenile delinquent into a life of a master jewel thief and murderer. Despite his upbringing, Eckert admires his uncle and lives with him as he grows into a "10 Most Wanted" criminal. Eckert's victim, Lindsay Hughes, the 16-year-old daughter of Texas State Senator Warren Hughes, whom he kidnapped and threatened to bury alive, however, gender-inverts this trope.
      • Season 7's "Special Witness" had a Special Olympian named Sally (played by Andrea Fay Friedman), whom Trent was escorting to running practice while her mother had to go to a job interview, and later had to be protected by the Rangers after she witnessed Trent being stabbed by a federally-wanted assassin and serial killer (played by Gary Busey) hired by a mob boss to prevent him from testifying against him in court, at which point the Rangers set out to catch said assassin to add more charges to said mob boss's rap sheet. Sally's father hung in there for a while for the first few years of her life, and is rumored to have walked out on his family after the fact.
      • Glenn Cooper in Season 9's "Deadly Situation". His father was Tom Cooper, a Texas Ranger and a close friend of Walker's who died in the line of duty, and Walker and Trivette would piece together that he is the descendant of the legendary Texas Ranger Hayes Cooper, and being that Walker is also one of Hayes Cooper's descendants, this makes Walker and Glenn distant cousins. Likewise, starting off as a police officer for the Sage City, Texas, Police Department and the whole plot involving him busting three of his own for partaking in a drug trafficking ring (later revealed be four: his lieutenant, who was in charge of the operation and would go on to commit suicide by hanging himself before his arrest), and almost taking the fall for it, Glenn aspires to become a Texas Ranger himself.
        Glenn: How did Walker know about Hayes Cooper?
        Alex: Everyone needs a hero, and Hayes Cooper has always been Walker's hero.
      • "Child of Hope", also in Season 9, has Steve and Cara Parkins, and their infant son, Maxnote . Played straight with 19-year-old Steve, who lost both his parents so very young, and made a lot of pretty bad choices in his life, and among those bad choices was befriending a gang of burglars led by Jake Horbart after serving a six-month stint for shoplifting (apparently, the second time he did so and the judge decided to set an example by not going easy on him), who ultimately kill him after he chickens out during a home invasion gone sour. Cara witnessed Horbart and his gang murder Steve and is forced to go into hiding, as well as leave Max in Walker and Alex's care. Downplayed however, with Cara, whose parents live in Fort Worth, and Walker and Alex were able to track down her parents so they could help her raise their baby. Played straight and justified with Max, as his father was killed by the main villains of the episode while his mother left him in Alex's care to ensure Horbart and his gang don't kill him, too, until they were reunited in time for Horbart to try to murder them and Alex, only for him (Horbart) to be killed by Walker.
      • "Faith", also in Season 9, has the titular character, Faith Barry, and she has both this and a Missing Mom. Her mother, the daughter of her maternal grandmother, Dionne Barry (played by Dionne Warwick), died of a drug overdose when she was a little baby, and nobody ever met her father; as such, Dionne has since retired from being a professional singer to raise her. Worst of all, she was diagnosed with a life-threatening genetic liver disorder and is in need of a life-saving transplant, which kicks off the episode's plot.
  • The Walking Dead: Poor Glenn becomes this thanks to being murdered before his child is even born.
  • We Are Who We Are: Fraser says he knows nothing about his father, and he clearly isn't around in the present. Fraser says he knows nothing about his father, and he clearly isn't around in the present. When asked, Sarah just says his father was a "ghost" and he shouldn't become too attached. The circumstances of what exactly went on aren't stated (given that she's a lesbian, it might have been prior to coming out, though her future wife Maggie met him as well).
  • 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.
  • Wild Bill: JonJo Ryan, Alma's father in "Dead Men Don't Return Library Books", left her years back when she was just a girl. She looked but didn't find him. He reappears in the end, reconnecting with Alma, who's in need of a liver transplant which only he's able to provide.
  • The Wilds: Kirin's dad left when he was very young, leaving him without any kind of father figure until he met his coach.
  • Willow: Madmartigan has been missing for years after he went on a mission Sorsha tasked him with, leaving their children and her behind.
  • 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.
  • The Worst Witch: In the 2017 series, it's revealed that Mildred's father is not around. Her mom tells Mildred the two lost touch before she found out they'd be having a baby. As a result, he isn't aware of her. It's left open that they might get into contact in the future though-her mom says they can try to find him when Mildred wants. With the fourth season, it's revealed he'd had a brief relationship with her mother while visiting Morocco, but he later lost her mom's number. He meets Mildred when they cross paths.

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

  • 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 (2018):
    • 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.
  • You Me Her:
    • Izzy's father Ben left her as a teenager, and comes back into her life in Season 3 when she's grown up. He's an alcoholic, coming to apologize as part of his recovery. She's very hostile to him at first, as you'd expect, and only gradually forgives him for leaving her.
    • Jack's dad died in his youth, it turns out.
  • 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.