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Bumbling Dad

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If you're guessing that he falls, you're half right. note 

Mr. Bergstrom: Lisa, your homework is always so neat. How can I put this? Does your father help you with it?
Lisa: No. Homework's not my father's specialty.
Mr. Bergstrom: Well there's no shame in it, I mean, my dad—
Lisa: Not mine.
Mr. Bergstrom: You didn't let me finish—
Lisa: Unless the next word was "burped", you didn't have to.

Born out of the Sitcom Dysfunctional Family, he's a deliberate subversion of the Standard '50s Father. Now so ubiquitous the older trope is nearly forgotten.

Although he's clever at times, he's not usually allowed to be smart. He has no idea that Shortcuts Make Long Delays. He's lazy, gluttonous and has miscellaneous other glaring vices. His children may love him, but they often don't respect him. However, he is still a sympathetic character; the source of his charm is his complete love and loyalty to his family, even if the main way he shows it is by fixing problems he caused himself.

His family is made up of at least one child nearing or in their teenage years, and a wife (usually much prettier than Dad) who spends her time Parenting the Husband. If he has one or more teenage daughters, at least one will be a Bratty Teenage Daughter or a Daddy's Girl; whether they are or not, the dad will be an Overprotective Dad in regards to the girl(s) — and quite often Amazingly Embarrassing to the girls and the boys alike.


Naturally, filled with Unfortunate Implications, and often used as an enabler of several double standards. Sometimes, on the rare occasions that a mom does something dumb, she's cut more slack than she otherwise would be, since the bumbling dad is there to make her look better by comparison. The frustrating and stagnant gender roles enforced by this trope are often pointed to as an example of sexism against men. On the other hand, this trope doesn't let female characters off so good either. For example, if everyone's used to tolerating Dad's incompetence, they might still hold Mom to the standards of a competent adult. In fact, she may end up being held responsible for Parenting the Husband and fixing his screw-ups. After all, somebody's got to be the grownup in a family, and you can't hold Dad accountable for not acting like one if he's just an idiot.


This trope is still mostly seen in sitcoms and cartoons, along with many commercials, especially ones aimed at kids. In anime, this type of character is taken more respectfully, since it usually consists of a goofier dad, more involved with his family than the stereotypical Salaryman. This is even more common when his children have no visible mother.

This is an example of how a Subverted Trope can end up becoming the norm. Back in the day, fathers were assumed to be wise and in charge, and the bumbling dad was something fresh and unusual—which was arguably what made it so funny in the first place. Today, sitcoms have made bumbling dad an Undead Horse Trope, and consistently competent fathers are a comparative rarity.


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  • Popular in many, many television commercials — especially for products associated with domestic tasks like cooking, cleaning and childcare, as this plays into the complementary trope and stereotype that Men Can't Keep House.
  • This trope's over-use in advertising is frequently Lampshaded and held up for scorn on advert deconstruction forum Ad Turds.
  • Eggo Waffle commercials have dumped their live-action gimmicks in favor of crudely-drawn cartoon shorts featuring a bumbling dad trying to steal his daughter's waffles.
  • A commercial for Verizon internet showed a bumbling dad whose wife had to boss him around — for the good of the family — to stop him from neglecting his chores in favor of playing with the new computer under the guise of "helping" his daughter with her homework. The way it was played out came across as so unfunny and pointlessly insulting it was actually removed from the air after complaints.
    • Heck, several phone and cable commercials will still treat the dad like a goofy dumbass even when he's doing exactly what he's supposed to and buying the advertised service!

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Ranma ½, both Soun Tendo and Genma Saotome were often Bumbling Dads more typical of the American form of the trope than the Japanese style (as opposed to the egregious Principal Kuno in the same series, who was very much in the Japanese mold despite his obsession with Hawaii). This was even more pronounced for those times when they did act like the competent martial artists they were supposed to be.
    • Genma's a rather... interesting case in that he's often more straight-up malicious than your standard Bumbling Dad. There are quite a few stories where he doesn't even have a hint of good intentions behind his actions, and he's motivated by pure selfishness/sadism.
  • In Bleach Isshin Kurosaki, Ichigo's widower father. However, we learn later on that Isshin is in fact an exiled captain-level shinigami, and that his goofiness is a put-on. He's still goofy after The Reveal, just more of a badass. Also, most of his goofiness with relation to Ichigo was actually him being a Stealth Mentor, teaching Ichigo how to fight without Ichigo even realizing it. He is still, however, a complete incompetent boob when it comes to Yuzu and Karin.
  • Tenchi's dad Noboyuki in Tenchi Muyo!. He is a pretty competent architect, but when off-duty he exemplifies the trope.
  • Nanjiroh Echizen in The Prince of Tennis, though it can be said he's also a case of Obfuscating Stupidity.
    • In the manga, Tezuka's father Kuniharu is hinted to be a bit like this too. Quite a contrast with his kid and his dad.
  • Ouka, father of Recca Hanabishi, in the Flame of Recca manga is like this, despite being a stoic bad ass leader of Recca's 8 headed dragons, Resshin. In the anime, however, he's just like a normal, stoic dad.
    • Recca's adoptive father, Shigeo Hanabishi, however, plays this trope straight in both versions.
  • All the fathers in Ojamajo Doremi, to some degree. Special mention goes to Kenji Senou, Aiko's single father.
  • Sojiro Izumi, Konata's widowed, perverted, gaming father in Lucky Star. The fact that he was nicknamed Awesome-kun is not surprising at all.
    • It should be mentioned that the manga implied Soujirou is actually the least Book Dumb living member of the Izumi-Kobayakawa household.
  • Hajime in Hell Girl at times.
  • Saiunkoku Monogatari has Kou Shoka, who fills the role not only for his daughter Shuurei, but also to a lesser degree for both Seiran and the young Emperor, Shi Ryuuki. He mostly comes off as kind and good-natured but hopelessly inept, at least until it's revealed that he's also the highly skilled assassin known as the Black Wolf and that his bumbling is mostly an act.
  • Kogoro Mouri of Detective Conan is a loser, but his care towards his daughter Ran is utterly remarkable, which makes him a Papa Wolf all the way. He may burn through a bar's worth of alcohol and tobacco in a day, but if anyone threatens his little girl Ran and his charge Conan he will have their face for a doily.
  • In Soul Eater, Shinigami and Spirit count. Though the case of the former, it's partly the result of putting on a more child-friendly persona, which he then apparently became fond of.
  • Ouran High School Host Club has Fujioka Haruhi's widowed father Ranka. He's an odd person considering he's a Wholesome Crossdresser, bisexual, and can be a bit silly at times (especially in some of Haruhi's flashbacks when she was little). His bumbliness is very much portrayed as endearing, and a trait he shares with Haruhi's Love Interest Suou Tamaki.
    • On the other hand, he's the rare bumbling dad who crosses to Good Father too. It's obvious that he loves Haruhi genuinely and has done his best to raise her ever since his wife/Haruhi's mother Kotoko died, working hard in his very uncommon work in the okama bar to support both of them - to the point that at least once Haruhi rebukes him not for leaving her alone, but for overworking himself for her.
  • Ichigo's dad in Tokyo Mew Mew is a his rocker, but nonetheless a very nice guy. Ichigo speaks of him and her mother as her "ideal couple", and hopes that she and her love interest Aoyama will be like them one day.
  • Inukami!: Dai Youko, Youko's father, is the goofy dad type; described as an "adult child", he throws tantrums when he finds out Youko's in love with her tamer. However he's far from incompetent. Instead he's the only one capable of fighting the Big Bad in single combat.
  • Ai no Wakakusa Monogatari has Mr Laurence and Fredrick March.
  • Sand Chronicles: Masahiro is hardworking and has good intentions but also a bit of a scatterbrain, and his daughter Ann says she used to think of him as "naive and unreliable" as a child.
  • Omakes in Tokyo Ghoul:re reveal Yoshitoki Washuu to be one to his Antagonistic Offspring, Matsuri. His various attempts at family bonding fail miserably, primarily because of how completely different father and son are in personality and interests.

    Film - Animated 
  • The Father in The Movie of Coraline. In contrast, the Other Father is attentive, caring, and much cooler.
  • Professor Bomba from Epic is already unused to interacting with humans, let alone his own daughter.
  • In Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure Scamp sees his father as one of these, a lazy dad who could never understand his desire to be a wild dog. Little does he know that his father was THE wild dog back in the day.
  • As pointed out by The Nostalgia Chick in her episode on Disney Princesses, there was a pretty huge trend in "infantile, impotent fathers" that the Disney girls had to put up with during the company's Renaissance era; while they were always well-meaning and wanted the best for their daughters, they tended to get easily fooled, were intelligent but eccentric, were too caught up in traditional values, etc..
    • Interestingly enough, the main aversion to this is Fa Zhou, wise, poetic, kindhearted Retired Badass and father of Mulan, who wasn't even really a princess.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • Played with in American Beauty. Kevin Spacey's character is initially a depressing version of this, but as the movie continues he manages to shirk the mantle.
  • Played with in Juno, where the protagonists' father and stepmom look clueless in the beginning but appear wiser and emotionally supportive as the movie advances.
  • John Candy played at least a couple of characters like this, such as in Summer Rental and Great Outdoors.
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Wayne Szalinski is a more highly intelligent version of the bumbling dad. But he is far from irresponsible, even though his inventions have done bizarre things to his loved ones. Big Russ Thompson, on the other hand...
  • Are We There Yet? movies has gangsta rapper Ice Cube in this role, of all people.
  • Clark Griswald is very much this in the National Lampoon's Vacation movies.
    • Pretty much, every movie where Chevy Chase plays the dad, starting with Cops and Robbersons and going rapidly downhill. His role as Clark Griswold might have been an aversion if he could have kept his plans from going to hell, but that was rarely ever his fault; fate just doesn't like the Griswold clan.
    • Whatever it may be, Rusty Griswold is looking to receive this same treatment in Vacation.
  • Subverted in Cheaper by the Dozen. Tom is unable to control the kids at times, but he's clearly frustrated, not stupid. Although many claimed Tom was stupid, this clearly is not the case.
  • The clueless dad in the fluffy tween comedy Sleepover embodies this.
  • Mr. Mom is about a bumbling dad who has to stay at home and take care of the kids while his wife works. Once he stops feeling sorry for himself about being unemployed and his wife being the breadwinner, he gets it together and gets quite good in the role.
  • Subverted in Maleficent, where three female pixies are bumbling moms and the only male involved in raising the child is shown to be quite good at it.
  • Gang-du from The Host is clumsy, immature and absent-minded, which explains why his wife left him. He feeds his daughter Hyun-seo beer and can't even gather enough money to buy her a cellphone. In fact, he's so clumsy that he inadvertently allows his daughter to be captured by a giant monster from the river Han. Still, as incompetent as he is, he loves his daughter more than anything else in the world and fights with all his might to save her. And as it turns out, the authorities are even more inefficient than he is.
  • Mean Girls has Cady's father who doesn't know that kids aren't allowed outside when they're grounded.
  • Played With in Moms' Night Out. Alysson imagines all sorts of horror scenarios when Marco and Sean are in charge of the kids. However, most of the shenanigans, including the fathers and their kids winding up in jail, are the fault of the mothers.
  • Subverted in Suffragette; Maud's husband Sonny seems to be this at first, when he fails to dress his son in the morning and the child still wears a pyjama when he's sent to the carer. However, it soon turns out that he is not loyal to his family, but ruthless enough to give the son up for adoption without Maud's consent, which the law of that time allowed.

  • Averted in A Brother's Price - the fact that the Whistlers are such a well-organized family is attributed to Jerin's grandfather Alannon, as the grandmothers were a ragtag bunch of soldier-spies. Jerin's father seems to have done a good job, too, and Jerin is a very competent replacement dad for his younger siblings. His love interest points out that he's good at parenting in an attempt to convince her relatives that he'd be a good match.
  • Papa Bear of The Berenstain Bears.
  • Frank Heffley in Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a bumbling dad. He acts like he's in his 80s. Not only does he regularly yell "Dagnabbed rotten teenagers!", but in the webcomic, he tries to get Classical music playing throughout the town to scare the teenagers away, is apparently teenager phobic, can't figure out how Gregory's game system is even hooked up to the TV, and says people at drive-thrus are idiots...yet he tries to place his order through a garbage can.
  • This is the premise of Jill Murphy's Mr. Large in Charge.
    • Though in the Animated Adaptation of this series, The Large Family, both the mother and father are portrayed of either equal competence level, or Mr. Large being slightly more competent compared to the slightly bumbling Mrs. Large.
  • In Harry Potter, Arthur Weasley (Ron's father) somewhat gives off this vibe, although he seems to be competent enough when it really counts. Ron possibly fulfills this trope during the epilogue era. Vernon Dursley might count as a rare villainous version.

    Live Action TV 
  • In general, it's hard to find a dad from any given family comedy made since the 90s who isn't this trope.
  • In Everybody Loves Raymond, there is Frank Barone, a blustering uberboor with no concept of sensitivity or restraint who embodies this trope: his husbanding skills to Marie are non-existent, and his concept of bringing up sons involved intimidation and lots of shouting combined with insults and rough treatment—all for their own good, naturally. His sense of personal hygiene is hazy and he is a voracious glutton as well as an exemplar of Doom It Yourself.
    • His son Raymond views wife Debra as almost a surrogate mother and he is inclined to be lazy and to let her do all the work. When prodded to do chores, he has gone so far in ineptitude as to burn out the kitchen with an accidental fire; he has bought a new vacuum cleaner for no better reason than that he found the saleswoman attractive; and his parenting of three children is wildly inconsistent, veering from permissive to Victorian Father. There is every sign that his brother Robert, who married late, is learning from a master in his relationship to wife Amy.
    • A few episodes of the show suggest that Ray deliberately invokes this trope—by messing up simple tasks, he gets out of doing work. Granted, that's just as frustrating...
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Mace Tyrell is entirely Played for Laughs as a bumbling, sycophantic Momma's Boy.
    • Tytos Lannister is remembered as a good man who nearly ruined House Lannister.
  • Step by Step: Frank Lambert was a clear example, usually by trying too hard be the father. This often annoyed or outright angered eldest stepdaughter Dana many times, who viewed him as uncouth and uneducated ... but many times, Dana could rely on Frank to stick up for her in her time of need.
  • Phil Dunphy of Modern Family, mainly as a result of his attempts to seem cool.
  • Al Bundy of Married... with Children is a more caustic version of this.
    • In the case of Al Bundy it's more along the lines of a reasonably competent man who's been surrounded by insane circumstances for so long it's hard for him to care anymore and he doesn't apply himself. He hates his life, his wife, his kids, his job, his neighbors, his boss and everything else he has to deal with, and when he proves he knows what he's doing nobody cares. Why even bother?
  • Steven Keaton on Family Ties.
  • Tim Taylor in Home Improvement. Unlike most bumbling dads, however, he is actually very competent at his job. At least, he would be if it weren't for his almost mental-illness-level compulsion to "improve" things. When he isn't creating outdoor grills that can achieve geosynchronous orbit, he's actually a very skilled handy man. He's far more "No concern for safety or moderation" than "Doesn't know what he's doing". As far as his family goes, Tim is a little closer to the standard for this trope, usually not always understanding how he should act in various circumstances, as having effectively raised himself after his dad died, he's not clear how a family works. This conversely means that in any episode where someone dies, Tim ends up being much more competent and capable.
  • Tim Allen's character in the Spiritual Successor Last Man Standing actually subverts this trope. He's a very caring and loving father, but there is no question that he is more intelligent, rational, and mature than his kids, if at times a bit brusque. More often than not, he acts as the Only Sane Man within his family.
  • Bob Duncan from Good Luck Charlie.
    • Several episodes show that Bob might not be so bumbling as he appears, though, and that he's ObfuscatingStupidity to both his wife and kids for the sake of a quiet life.
  • Hal from Malcolm in the Middle. However, he shows great intelligence and patience for an example of this trope - his relationship with his family is as far as the similarity goes. Certainly his wife is more of an antagonist than him. In fact, it's frequently hinted that Hal used to be a happy, intelligent, emotionally stable guy before marrying Lois.
    • There's also a great episode were Hal becomes increasingly reckless and carefree when Lois isn't around to temper his more compulsive attributes.
    • Hal is the INSTIGATOR for most of the madness in the Middle household, and the part of the equation the kids get their mischief from. Lois might be more strict and punishing, but Hal is the one with all the crazy schemes..
  • Mr C in Happy Days. Not quite as bumbling as later examples, but an early subversion of "Father Knows Best" type dads (to quote one meddling executive: "He doesn't look like a father. He looks like my father.")
  • Jim of According to Jim.
    • It's easier to just include every father from Family-Based sitcoms than naming then, from Still Standing to Grounded for Life. (Though in the former, the mother is just as bad as the father).
  • Michael Rappaport's character in The War at Home managed to combine this trope with Jerkass.
  • Cliff Huxtable from The Cosby Show was created specifically as an antidote for this. Bill Cosby was tired of all the father figures on TV being essentially dominated by their kids, and created a competent, intelligent, but still funny father character for himself. It's still present in a downplayed form, as his family refuse to let him try to fix household appliances.
  • Also averted by Uncle Phil on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Yes, he has his moments of stupidity, but overall, Uncle Phil's portrayed as competent and knowledgeable way more often than other sitcom dads. And he's also an excellent lawyer and an even better judge, although his skills as a handyman and cook are even less impressive than Bill Cosby's above.
  • Michael from My Wife and Kids, on the other hand, was an subverion of the bumbling dad trope Gone Horribly Wrong, or perhaps true to life. Instead of being a bumbling dad whose controlled by his wife and children... his relationship with them throughout the series can be summed up with this quote, "I Bugs Bunny'd you."
  • The very first bumbling dad on television may have been Stu Erwin, in a show that's known as The Stu Erwin Show or Trouble with Father or Life with the Erwins depending who you ask.
  • A stock trope on The Munsters was that Herman Munster would screw up in some well-meaning way as a father/family patriarch and the rest of the family would rally around to get him out without damaging his ego (too much). Also from the series was Grandpa, who didn't let the fact his daughter was All Grown Up stop him from acting just as bad as Herman in the fatherhood department.
  • Gomez Addams, on the other hand, had eccentric habits and interests and could lean towards Cloud Cuckoolander tendencies at times, but was still depicted as a selfless, loving and attentive husaband and father. In addition to being Happily Married, he and his wife Morticia usually worked together to solve various family problems.
  • Josh's dad Alan on Please Like Me is a well-meaning guy who nevertheless manages to behave irresponsibly with a certain regularity.
  • Most people who remember Make Room For Daddy probably remember the many times Danny Williams was this, his excuse being that his work as a nightclub singer kept him from spending a lot of time with his family. Much of this took place later in the series, after Danny had married Kathy. In its earliest inception, the show was noted for more serious portrayals of Danny and Margaret's conflict, to the point that Margaret talked about leaving (pretty edgy for 1953). When the actress playing Margaret quit, though, they just said that Margaret had died.
  • Felix Unger in the TV adaptation of The Odd Couple mostly averts this (being an incredibly good cook and housekeeper), but his dorky demeanor usually draws his children's attentions towards Oscar.
  • William Shatner plays one in his TV series, $#*! My Dad Says. The title says it all.
  • In an odd dramatic example, Don Draper of Mad Men tends to be cluelessly oblivious, if well-meaning, towards his children (particularly Sally), in sharp contrast to Betty (who is generally quite cold and hits Sally for her acts of rebellion).
  • In Doctor Who, though we never saw any of his family aside from his granddaughter, it's heavily implied that the Doctor was one of these, due to most of his incarnations being wonderfully eccentric.
  • William Francis Tanner, better known as Willie Tanner, the dad from the show, ''ALF
  • Inverted in Up All Night, as noted here. Chris began sort of this way, but as a stay-at-home-dad got things under control. His wife, Reagan, who continued working as a TV producer, is instead the one who tends to bollix things up when she takes charge.
  • Carl Winslow from Family Matters was this on occasion. For instance, in the "Opposites Attract" episode when Harriet asks, "Why must I take part in such a pointless activity?" Carl responds, "Because we are men and we thrive on pointless activity."
    • Additionally Carl is shown as being no better at household repairs than Cliff Huxtable, with one early episode involving an attempted repair being titled "Mr. Badwrench"note 
  • Averted by Jimmy Chance on Raising Hope, who is shown to be a loving, attentive, and good parent. His father (and mother) are shown to be bumbling parents in flashbacks.
  • Walter from Drake & Josh
  • Jerry from Wizards of Waverly Place has his moments.
  • In the series Father Knows Best, the titular father complains about this trope in the Show Within a Show called Father Does It Again, exclaiming that such a "stumblebum" husband could only exist on television. After watching the show he becomes Wrong Genre Savvy, convinced his family is pulling a sitcom-style deception to keep him from going hunting.
  • Earl Sinclair on Dinosaurs.
    • The episode "Dirty Dancing" has Earl watching a show called "Totally Ineffectual Dad", which is all about the father being a bumbling dad. At one point and advertisement for the show mentions that it is followed by other shows with the "bumbling dad" concept, such as "Dad's a Moron" and "Father Knows Nothing".
  • Eric Sweet, on House of Anubis, after he was revealed to be Eddie's father. He tried hard to rebuild their relationship, but was a bit clueless, making it get awkward for the both of them at times. However, he wasn't a complete moron, he was just not used to being a father.
  • Largely averted with Dan Conner on Roseanne. While he could be a little bumbling (such as needing help finding his lost pants) and occasionally lazy in regards to household chores such as cooking, he is, for the most part, attentive, hard-working, and an excellent father to his children, providing Cool and Unusual Punishment when the need arises and not being afraid to take on anyone who hurts his family.
  • Ted Wheeler from Stranger Things lives and breathes this trope. He's useless whenever the family gets into an argument, speaks in lame baseball metaphors to a son who couldn't be less interested in sports, and instantly believes everything the government cover-up team tells him.

  • Country Music parodist Cledus T. Judd has "Where's Your Mommy?", a parody of Toby Keith's "Who's Your Daddy?" that features a man struggling to keep a baby entertained and clean while the mother's away.
  • Kaito often gets portrayed as this in Vocaloid fanworks that make him and Meiko the Designated Parents of the Crypton Future Media Vocaloids, though usually not to the extent of the typical sitcom dad; sweet and well-meaning, but naive, childish, and obsessed with ice cream, as opposed to the usually more mature if somewhat hotheaded and booze-loving Meiko.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Roger Fox from FoxTrot. In one strip, he managed to burn his silhouette onto the wall trying to light the furnace. In another, even more ridiculous strip, Roger flooded the house when he tried to use the dishwasher, and that was while Andy was out of town.
    • That's not even mentioning his regular failure to properly operate a grill... using a "whole bottle of lighter fluid" at a time, more or less. One grill strip brought it to Epic Fail levels. After he piles on the lighter fluid and charcoal, it makes a fire blast that continues upward into space. In the second to last panel, it destroys one of the Mars rovers. The last panel implies this has happened before.
    • Surprisingly, Roger wasn't always like this; there was a period of the strip where he was rather competent (at least 60% of the time, as opposed to 10% in the later ones) as a father and not just at chess. (Now it's a Running Gag that anyone can beat him unless they're trying to lose.)
    • One gag constant from the strip's beginning is his need of youngest son Jason's help to operate the computer because he can't even remember how to turn the thing on.
    • Roger is generally a complete idiot when it comes to matters of money and technology. He bought lots of stock in "GrowCo", because a friend said it was a "good buy". The company crashes and burns the very next day. Roger doesn't even know what GrowCo does, despite still being completely convinced that it will rise again.
    Roger: Hey, the stock today raised up a point! Time for some champagne!
    Andy: (facepalming) With only a net loss of-
    Roger: (interrupting) Who cares about nets? Tennis players! And fishermen! I don't care about nets!
  • Usually averted by Darryl MacPherson of Baby Blues. We're talking about a guy who changed a diaper in the men's room at the mall.
  • Wally of Stone Soup is another notable aversion. He takes care of the kids as much as his wife, and he can cook.
  • Dagwood Bumstead on Blondie ranges between a Standard '50s Father and this. Justified by his Idle Rich background— he never learned to do most of the things required of him as a working-class father.
  • The comic Adam@home embodies (and lives on) this trope with its bungling and adorkable (though still rather competent) title character, apart from his reasonably more attractive (and assertive) wife, his two kids (his son is somewhat of a Cheerful Child and his daughter is quite bratty) and more recently, a labradoodle.
  • Larry the crocodile from Pearls Before Swine. He is completely idiotic, even compared to the rest of Zeeba Zeeba Eata, and he is quite an Alcoholic. Once he didn't even bother to rescue his wife, Patty, when Zebra kidnapped her, and they only got her back when Zebra realized he was only hurting their son Junior.

  • Played to tragicomic effect in Canadian playwright Ed Riche's one man show Possible Maps. While the protagonist's father, a university professor, wasn't stupid by any means, he was somewhat scatterbrained at best and manic depressive with what looks like a touch of autism at worst. Most of the play revolves around the protagonist reminiscing about what a chore it was for the family to put up with him and his own anxieties about the possibility of inheriting the man's mental frailties.
  • Old Gobbo in The Merchant of Venice. This arises partly from the fact that he's too blind to recognize his own son.

    Video Games 
  • Viewtiful Joe's father, Jet Black.
  • The Irresponsible Dad in Happy Wheels.
  • Asura from Asura's Wrath was like this before being betrayed. Unlike most of the other examples however, this isn't out of actual idiocy: Since his Mantra is that of Wrath, he's so angry about almost everything that the only parenting he knows is of the two step variety: 1) Find reason daughter is crying. 2) Apply punch to the face of said reason.
  • Jun Kurosu's father, Akinari Kashihara, in Persona 2: Innocent Sin, which contributed to his divorce, and lead to young Jun's embarrassed lies about his father, which created a shadow copy of Akinari that Nyarlathotep took over. Somewhat de-Bumbled in the second half of P2, Eternal Punishment, enough to at least keep his marriage intact.
  • Octodad, who due to being an invertebrate creature with poor motor controls has difficulties performing tasks that would be otherwise simple for human beings (at least in gameplay).
  • Boggy from Banjo-Kazooie is a polar bear who is utterly incompetent at parenting. In the original game, he abandons his kids at Christmas to go sled racing, leaving Banjo and Kazooie to find their missing presents. In Banjo-Tooie, he has given up sled racing to watch his big-screen television set, leaving his wife to take his kids to the Witchyworld amusement park, and Banjo and Kazooie to round them up for her.
  • Wally Warbles from Cuphead is an interesting example. He's shown as short-tempered and aggressive, but he's not exactly bumbling, being as tough a boss as the others in the game. His unnamed child mentions the two of them "bringing the pain" together and doesn't seem to be ashamed of him. Despite this, Wally still shows signs of incompetence, most namely during his bullet hell phase, in which he strains himself to the point of losing his breath.


    Web Video 
  • In what fellow troper Bishop Barron calls "The Homer Simpson Effect," popular works like The Simpsons and Family Guy depict fathers as boorish, stupid, and unvirtuous to make the women in the family look better. While he understands this as a Deconstruction of patriarchal norms, the Bishop cites Aristotle to argue that women can be virtuous without relegating good fathers to the trash heap.

    Western Animation 
Western animated series loves this trope
  • The Simpsons: Homer Simpson may be the trope codifier.
    • Sometimes, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, when the eight octuplets become more than he can handle, much to the baggage he receives from Manjula.
  • None of the fathers in shows created by Seth MacFarlane are the sharpest knives in the kitchen:
  • Hanna-Barbera cartoons
  • Drake Mallard, AKA Darkwing Duck, from Darkwing Duck and his adopted daughter Gosalyn.
  • "Numbuh One" or Nigel Uno's dad in Codename: Kids Next Door, which is a huge contrast to who he was when he was Numbuh Zero.
    • Numbuh Four's dad is the same way except he wasn't exactly a KND Operative.
  • Goofy in Goof Troop, A Goofy Movie and, earlier, in his '50s cartoon shorts where he attempted to play a Standard '50s Father named George Geef. A perfect example of this trope in action is "Father's Day Off", in which Goofy, as Geef, assumes his wife's duties while she goes out for the day. However, it's easy to forgive Goofy for being bumbling as a family man, because bumbling has always been part of his overall personality.
    • Pete can also be a fairly bumbling dad on Goof Troop depending on the episode, and has more of the stereotypical traits such as laziness and gluttony, but generally speaking he's actually worse, with most of his "bumbling" coming in non-parenting forms such as not thinking through his schemes.
    • While on the subject of classic Disney characters, Pluto can also be seen as this in a handful of shorts where he becomes a father to at least one or more puppies, such as in "Pluto's Quin-Puplets" and "Pluto, Junior".
  • Jake Morgendorffer (Daria), who grew increasingly clownish as the series progressed.
  • In a way, Baloo, from the animated series TaleSpin, though he wasn't married to Rebecca, and wasn't Kit's actual father.
  • Cosmo and Mr. Turner of The Fairly OddParents!. The show is fair enough to show that Mrs. Turner isn't that much brighter... That may explain Timmy. It should also be noted how Wanda used to be not much brighter than Cosmo, who had gone through severe Flanderization, and in fact in the pilot episode they describe themselves as "two halves of a whole idiot".
    • Practically all the dads (and adults, for that matter) are bumbling. Special mention goes to Chester's dad.
    • And in one episode Mr. Crocker. Ironically, despite normally being a Child Hater, he's shown to genuinely care for Denzel Jr. DJ Poof. Though, his parental skills are quite questionable since Crocker tried to teach him how to shave in total darkness and how to drive... despite the latter being an infant.
  • Jack Fenton of Danny Phantom. One good look at him and you can tell he's not meant to be treated seriously... at least until he gets dangerous (especially when his family is at risk). He is also something of a Genius Ditz, having invented at least half the Fenton gadgets, which go between being useless (The Fenton Ghost Gabber) and working a little too well. (Fenton Ghost Catcher, Ghost Peeler, Ectxo-Skeleton).
  • Oscar Proud from The Proud Family. Oscar Proud is an unsuccessful inventor of snack foods. He regularly engages in, and loses, competitions with his Rival "The Wizard." He is the frequent victim of cartoon-slapstick mishaps. His mother, the "cool" grandmother Sugar Momma, insults him constantly. And to top it all off, many episodes portray him foolishly overprotective of his daughter Penny.
  • Hugh Neutron from Jimmy Neutron. Many times, Hugh would screw up one of Jimmy's inventions.
  • Dexter's father in Freakazoid! takes it to ditz levels. When imprisoned, he can't even learn to do tally marks correctly.
  • In Dexter's Laboratory, both parents, though their primary flaw was being clueless to Dexter's Laboratory (and he has a memory erasing gun, so its more like they look stupid by comparison to their supergenius son.)
    • Also, Dexter's father turns out to be a stunt biker when his job is finally revealed (up to then, he left every day dressed for an office job), making him much cooler and more competent than the typical example.
  • Mr. X from The X's is your typical bumbling father, who knows 50 ways to destroy a man with his bare hands alone.
  • Cow and Chicken's Dad who is more insane than bumbling. Mom too.
  • Dick Daring in The Replacements.
  • Randy Marsh in South Park has drifted in this direction over the years; in the beginning he rarely appeared (and the first episode he played a major part in needed him because he was a scientist); now, he usually gets caught up in every stupid fad, and is frequently portrayed as the single dumbest individual in any of the kids' families, while his wife is one of the sanest (...of the adults, at least).
  • Becky Botsford's adoptive father has no idea she's the titular WordGirl, and often makes stupid mistakes and screw-ups.
    • Really, the show has no intelligent adults in it at all. Well... none that aren't also either insane or evil.
  • Billy's dad in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. Like his son, he often doesn't care about anything and has a small IQ.
    Mandy: I guess we know which side of the family Billy got his brain from...
  • Bob Oblong from The Oblongs.
  • Pop of Happy Tree Friends. It's usually fatal for Cub when he's Distracted by the Shiny. He means well, but he doesn't exactly live in a world which pities mistakes or oversights. (Or seemingly safe and sensible decisions for that matter.)
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • Gumball and Anais' dad Richard; in fact, he's such a bumbling dad, it's even shown that the universe literally falls apart when he gets a job. By contrast, his wife Nicole is a neat freak perfectionist to the extreme, though since she actually enjoys being busy all the time it works out fine for the most part.
    • Banana Bob, who is Banana Joe's father. Banana Barbara could also count as a Bumbling Mom, since she's as stupid as her husband and son.
  • Lawrence Fletcher of Phineas and Ferb. While he is neither dumb nor irresponsible nor lazy, he can be quite dorky and is also extremely laid-back and mellow when it comes to everything. He's also completely useless when it comes to Candace's quest to bust her brothers, as his reaction to their insane exploits ranges from mild confusion to approval.
    • Dr. Doofenshmirtz is also a glaring example of this trope, highlighted In Vanessa's song.
  • Kim Possible downplays this trope with Kim's father, who is a rocket scientist and is more an Absent-Minded Professor than a real bumbling dad, and who has often dispatched sage advice, even if he does still refer to her as "Kimmy-cub". Ron's Dad, on the other hand, once showed up in public wearing a cape.
    • There have been times when he bumbled due to being distracted when he's advising Kim. Like that time he accidentally launched a rocket ahead of schedule when talking to Kim on the phone.
  • Looney Tunes: Foghorn Leghorn is not Egghead's dad, but his eagerness to play father figure to Egghead always lands him in slapstick mayhem.
  • The titular character of Clarence doesn't live with his dad, but his stepfather Chad can play this role, being a total Manchild.
  • Both Fred and Barney from The Flintstones were bumbling dads when Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm came along. They'd been bumbling husbands since the start of the show, though, so it wasn't really new for them.
  • In a similar vein, George from The Jetsons is also quite bumbling.
  • Sylvester of Looney Tunes is this to Sylvester Jr.
  • Peppa Pig's Daddy Pig is a rare pre-school kid's show example.
  • El Tigre's father Rondolfo Rivera, AKA the legendary hero White Pantera, isn't as bumbling as most examples, but he comes off as way too goody-goody, especially for his Anti-Hero son and Card-Carrying Villain papi.
  • Hunson Abadeer is Satan in the Adventure Time universe. When it comes to Marceline his daughter, he reverts into a light parody of the trope.
  • Vijay Patel from Sanjay and Craig is also more of a dork rather than an outright idiot.
  • Downplayed with Leo Callisto from Miles from Tomorrowland; he may be a bit more laid-back and goofy than his wife Phoebe, but he's certainly no idiot.
  • Jerry Smith of Rick and Morty is a rather dark deconstruction. He's not especially bright even when compared to his kids, but his wife is a great deal smarter than him and his father-in-law is an outright Omnidisciplinary Scientist. His incompetence and relative lack of intelligence do provide some comedy, but they've also left him extremely insecure, resentful of his entire family, and have caused some severe problems with his marriage.
  • Greg Universe from Steven Universe is an interesting example. The Crystal Gems consider him to be this trope, due to his inability to help with many of the dangers and threats that the characters face. However, as an actual father, he's a very loving and supportive parent who tries to raise Steven as best he can, having built the house Steven lives in (despite living in a van himself), covers their living expenses, and was the one to raise Steven for several years due to the Gems having no concept of child-rearing and Steven's mother Rose Quartz giving up her physical form to give Steven her gem.
  • Dwayne in Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race is this since he's an Expy of Clark Griswold, who may be the king of this trope.
  • Not just the father, but both parents in The Loud House seem to shift between this, being Good Parents, and Parents as People, depending on the episode.
  • Rugrats:
    • Stu Pickles is a downplayed example. He's good-natured, loves to invent, and has a child-like personality. He builds toys for income, but said toys can be hit or miss depending on how well they work. He may not be the brightest dad, but is still helpful to his wife and two sons in many ways, and he loves them all very much.
    • Chas Finster is a kind, well-meaning man, but is also clumsy, awkward, absent-minded, and frequently a Horrible Judge of Character.
  • The Oh Yeah! Cartoons short "That's My Pop" starred a Child Prodigy bear girl named Naomi whose father was a complete imbecile who could barely read.
  • Ready Jet Go!: Carrot is this due to be very silly and often clueless compared to his wife. However, he provides helpful information to the kids and is a great baker, making this thankfully downplayed.
  • Bunnicula: Mina's single dad, Arthur Monroe. Despite the fact that he's a good father to Mina, he's barely aware of his sureoundings. For example, he thinks Mina's thirteenth birthday is her third birthday, and when Bunnicula creates a bunch of Mina clones, the only thing he notices wrong is that the clones served him pancakes instead of waffles for breakfast, rather than the fact that there's only supposed to be one Mina.