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Supernatural-Proof Father

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Usually, when a household starts experiencing supernatural events, and other bizarre occurrences, the whole family experiences them.

Well, almost everybody.

You see, the father, as the head of the family and the most "sensible and grounded" member, is the last person to encounter (or admit to encountering) these bizarre events. The children see them, the wife/mother sees them, Hell, even the family dog sees them. But the dad is always the last person to see and believe. Although it's debatable whether or not they're the least susceptible, too obsessed with "normal" life for the weirdness to affect him, or just plain in denial. This is a common trope in "Haunted House" style stories.

See also Not Now, Kiddo; Adults Are Useless. Contrast Only Sane Man, where sanity in the face of mass hysteria is portrayed as a virtue.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach:
    • Subverted. Isshin Kurosaki complains about being the only member of his family not to see ghosts at first, then later turns out to be faking it, and, technically speaking, being a shinigami in a fake body the whole time. Point is, he's the source of their genetically heritable supernatural wackiness, and not an exception.
    • It's implied to be the same with his wife Masaki, when she was still alive. The same, as in that she was also completely aware of spirits, being a hollowfied quincy and the reason why their dad ended up in the human world instead of going back to Soul Society. Ichigo and his sisters were always meant to be involved in the afterlife, whether they liked it or not.
  • Haré+Guu: Inverted. Guu's Weirdness Censor renders her horror inconspicuous to everyone except Haré, the main character, and to a much lesser degree Dr. Clive, Haré's father. And the Village Elder who always turns into quivering jelly when Guu is around. Though that could be more due to what Guu did to him in the first episode than fear of the supernatural.
  • In Cardcaptor Sakura, Fujitaka is the only one in the Kinomoto household who doesn't experience the supernatural. Touya has clairvoyant powers (as did his mother, Nadeshiko, when she was alive), and Sakura is (of course) the Card Mistress. It's later revealed that Fujitaka is one half of a reincarnation of Clow Reed, without any of his powers.
  • In My Neighbor Totoro, Kusakabi-sensei is unable to see Totoro, the Soot Sprites, or the Cat Bus, unlike his daughters. However, it's not so much because he's dad, but simply because he's an adult.

    Comic Books 
  • Doctor Terrance Thirteen, the Ghost Breaker, is The DCU's preeminent example, earnestly believing that aliens (like Superman), magicians (like Doctor Fate) and supernatural beings (like The Spectre) simply don't exist at all, even though his daughter, Traci, is a member of the Homo Magi, magic-using humans such as Zatanna. He's treated unilaterally as a joke. Ironically, in his original appearances before continuity held sway (that is, before The DCU was firmly established as a Shared Universe where nearly all DC properties resided), the ghosts and magicians he went up against always were fake and his skepticism was presented as a virtuous trait; but when continuity started drawing all DC books into one reality, he was first shown the spirit of his dead father by the Spectre, then he was teamed with the very mystical Phantom Stranger, and from then on he was always wrong, simply because the Stranger's very existence demanded it be so. Dr. 13 currently lives outside of the time stream, aware of his own fictional nature; he is teamed with an alien, a vampire, a French caveman, and a talking vampire gorilla with Nazi leanings, his daughter is a rather powerful witch, and he believes none of this.
    • There have been two alternate takes on Dr. 13. In The Books of Magic, the fact he doesn't believe in magic means it simply doesn't work around him, in a cross between Clap Your Hands If You Believe and Weirdness Censor. In Zatanna he visits a mystical dimension and is happy to admit something's happening, but defines it all in scientific terms. (Quantum mechanics and M-theory get a lot of crap past the scientific radar.) There's also the Architecture and Morality take, wherein he's simply strongly in denial of reality.
    • He's met the DC comic staff so he knows they're all fiction.
    • Dr. 13 frequently alternated in stories where the Phantom Stranger appeared opposite him showing a prior story that was pure trickery he'd revealed only to have things a bit more supernatural (obviously) much of but not always when they were together. He also once disproved that ghosts haunted a house by showing it was actually ALIENS using the house as a stopover point as they teleported across the universe. He's always been the example of the devout worshiper of science whose blind-spot always has him refusing to accept the evidence of supernatural things because he operates under the (obviously proven wrong) premise that nothing supernatural actually exists.
    • In the New 52 The Phantom Stranger title, he's been reinvented as a "scientific occultist" in the mould of Egon Spengler. His ancestor, the original Terrence Thirteen in All-Star Western, on the other hand, is the ultimate self-deluded unbeliever: at one point his ghost chides the modern-day Terry for believing in the supernatural, believing that he himself is just a hallucination.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm: Gender Inverted with the Drake family. When Bobby manifests mutant powers, it's his mother who is in complete denial, while the father is the Only Sane Man (well, moreso than the others).
  • Quiververse: Quiver Quill's father Bitterhoof is a rather extreme example who angrily dismisses things such as Nightmare Moon, Sonic Rainbooms and Windigoes as "horseshit", despite the first two being confirmed as real.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Amityville
    • In The Amityville Horror (1979), George is the last person to believe the house is haunted, yet is probably the one most affected, barring the Priest of course who ends up getting cursed after being the house for all of 10 minutes.
    • The abusive father of the Montelli family in Amityville II: The Possession blames all the weirdness of the place on his kids.
  • In The Orphanage, the female lead, Laura, notices all the creepy stuff that's going on, while her husband, Carlos, sees nothing, and remains relatively uninvolved. A big theme of the movie was how belief change's one's perception. The husband didn't want to believe in ghosts, so he got minimal exposure, while the wife and the alleged psychic got full treatment.
  • Genderflipped in The Shining. Jack and his son are the only two to experience the hotel's evil haunting. Jack is slowly driven insane in part by his inability to tell his wife what's going on, and his son (being psychic) is getting bombarded with oh-so-horrible ghostly memories. His wife is quite firmly grounded in reality, and in fact proves to be more than Jack or the Hotel can readily handle even after he goes batty on her.
  • In the Silent Hill movie, the main protagonist's husband believes that their daughter has simply gone insane, and tries as hard as he can to keep his wife from driving her to the titular town. This is a debatable example, because he might just be smart enough to realize that taking someone who yells the name of a place in her nightmares to that very place is a little like looking for a gas leak in a dark room with a match.
  • Averted in The Monster Squad, where Sean's dad quickly gets the picture after seeing Dracula blow up his partner with a stick of dynamite, and spends the rest of the movie helping his son battle the monsters. Bonus points for also being a cop; you know how they usually fare in this type of movie...
  • Several of the A Nightmare on Elm Street films, including Nancy's dad from the original and Jesse's dad from Freddy's Revenge.
    • It's hinted in Freddy vs. Jason (and even before that) that at least some of the parents, as well as certain members of the police department, knew that the new wave of teen deaths weren't a coincidence which, in turn, lead to the dream suppressant drug Hypnocil and a "Don't Say That Name" policy.
  • The film Audrey Rose concerns Ivy Templeton, a preteen girl tortured by horrific nightmares of dying in a car crash. When her parents are approached by a man named Elliot Hoover who claims that Ivy is the reincarnation of his dead daughter Audrey Rose (who died in a car crash at the exact moment of Ivy's birth), Ivy's father refuses to believe it. He holds fast to his belief even after the evidence becomes overwhelming enough to have convinced his wife, leading to serious tension between the two.
  • Averted in the first Phantasm movie. The protagonist's older brother and father figure is the second person to figure out the supernatural goings-on at the cemetery, and he also subverts Adultsare Useless by grabbing his shotgun and Colt 1911 and investigating things firsthand. On the DVD commentary, the director talks about about how he hates this trope, and it was his goal to avert it from the beginning.
  • Insidious: Deconstruced. Josh rejects the idea that anything supernatural is happening to his son because he's repressing his memory of a ghost that had haunted him and tried to possess him when he was a kid. Him abandoning his skepticism turns out to be the worst thing he could've possibly done, as it gets him possessed in the end. Furthermore, his son inherited his ability to astral project into the spirit world (or the "further").
  • Paranormal Activity:
    • While not a father, Micah in the first film refuses to believe that he and Katie are being haunted by a demon, and before he takes it seriously he mocks and taunts it.
    • Dan from Paranormal Activity 2 plays this completely straight, though he does behave somewhat more sensibly than Micah.
      • However, in these films, it is implied that the demon is, in part, empowered by belief/fear of it - it is largely unable to do anything when Micah/Dan are around until later in the films.
    • Inverted in Paranormal Activity 3, where the mother is the one who refuses to believe anything strange is going on despite it affecting her husband and children.
    • Played somewhat straight Paranormal Activity 4 with both parents, though the daughter hurts her case by only showing the father footage once at the beginning, which the father thinks is fake, then telling them about all the weird stuff happening instead of showing them the much better footage she collects later on.
  • Taken to idiotic extremes in The Haunting of Molly Hartley, where the eponymous character's father refuses to believe her when she tells him about the Satanic cult that is after her, even though he had made a literal Deal with the Devil to save her life several years prior.
  • Also averted in Stir of Echoes when the dad's latent psychic powers cause the trouble.
  • In Poltergeist, everyone else in the family finds out about the haunting before the father (especially the "symmetrical chair stacking"). He comes home and the mother demonstrates the power of a "sliding area" using a chair and Carol Anne. He's also very skeptical about the psychic Tangina's powers later on.
  • Daniel in Dark Skiesnote  is a textbook example. Something Awful refers to him, and this character type in general, as "Horror Dad" in its review. Although to be fair Daniel is more so a case of extreme denial, plus he's obviously terrified and confused. In the third act he does come to terms with what's happening to him and his family.
  • Inverted in The Possession, where it's the mother Stephanie who is the skeptic. She thinks that Clyde's claims about demons and the dibbuk box are just more BS to cover for his bad parenting.
  • Subverted in Rosemary's Baby. Rosemary's husband tries to convince her that nothing strange is going on with their neighbors next door and that all of the other disturbing things that happen to her during her pregnancy are in her mind. However, he knows that they are really part of a devil-worshipping cult, and he's promised the baby to them.
  • In Hereditary, Steve believes that Annie was the one who dug up her mother's body and put her in the attic, and that her rantings about cults and Demonic Possession are really just the result of a mental breakdown.
  • Inverted in Brightburn. The mother Tori, who had been infertile before Brandon arrived, still treats her son (an evil version of a young Clark Kent) as a gift until it is well past too late, while the father Kyle is the first one who realizes that Brandon is evil. He even tries to kill Brandon to stop his rampage, though it does no good except to get him brutally killed in response.
  • In Color Out of Space (2020), the siblings, Benny and Lavinia, try to warn their father, Nathan, about the titular Eldritch Abomination, but he won't hear it, dismissing the damage it has caused as the result of their teenage irresponsibility. However, it is unclear how much of this is his own nature and how much is the Color preying on his mind.
  • Nobody in Manos: The Hands of Fate shows much common sense, but dad Mike is probably the worst. He insists that the family stay at the obviously suspicious, dilapidated lodge, even as his wife pleads with him to leave, and the Crusty Caretaker warns him that "The Master would not approve."
  • Mark in Field of Dreams cannot see any of the baseball players until the end.
  • The Canterville Ghost (adaptation of the Oscar Wilde short story of the same name): In one film version, people can only see ghosts if they already believe in ghosts. The dad, because he doesn't believe in ghosts, can't see them, and because he can't see them, it reinforces his belief that ghosts aren't real. He blames the ghost's activities to pranks on the part of the children, to the shock of the ghost in question.
  • Carnival of Souls: A priest takes on the role of the unreasonable skeptic, literally unable to see the terrifying Implacable Man stalking the Haunted Heroine church organist. Even when she's clearly mentally unraveling before his eyes, he remains unsympathetic, ultimately firing her for playing awful music on the organ.
  • The 2021 horror movie The Cellar plays it stereotypically straight up until the third act.

  • House of Leaves inverts this. The wife/mother of the family is in denial about the supernatural nature of the House; the dog and the cat are explicitly stated to not be affected by the supernatural stuff at all; the two children pick up on it but don't seem to grasp the full severity of it. But the husband/father of the family gets totally sucked into it - to the point that he makes his long-lost brother arrive, plus a team of explorers, and decides (he's a filmographer by living) to go make a movie about the weird stuff happening - against his wife's wishes.
  • "The Yattering and Jack": Subverted. The premise is that a demon has been assigned to drive the owner of a house mad or corrupt him by haunting him, but the demon cannot leave the house or reveal himself nor harm him or even affect him directly. The only problem is that man is completely boring, has no vices to be corrupted by, and ignores everything the demon does, which drives the demon to suicidal frustration. When the man's daughters comes over for Christmas dinner, the demon pulls out all the stops and animates the Christmas tree. His youngest daughter is freaked out, while the man still just shrugs and says he's going to go for a walk. The demon finally comes out and grabs his arm. The man turns and says "Ah ha! Got you!" Turns out the man knew about the demon all along and was only faking disbelief, and knew if the demon ever affected him directly then the demon would become enslaved to him.
  • The Colour Out of Space by H. P. Lovecraft, where the father is the last one in the Gardner family who is alive and relatively sane.
  • In Peter Pan Mr. Darling's refusal to believe in the existence of Peter Pan (in spite of his wife's, and even his dog's, efforts to convince him otherwise) indirectly results in the departure of the children to Neverland. Afterwards, he even sleeps in a kennel to atone for this — the origin of the phrase "in the doghouse".
  • Some literary scholars claim that the father in The Erl-King by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe represents the enlightened attitude of his time and is thus unresponsive to the supernatural phenomena his son (and for that matter all children — and women, due to their sensitive nature) are capable of sensing.
  • In The Girl from the Well, Tark's father is the one member of his family who never notices that he's being haunted.
  • Taken even further in Oscar Wilde's The Canterville Ghost, where the entire family is supernatural proof, reacting to bloodstains-that-will-not-leave by applying detergent, and asking the ghost clanking down the hall if he would mind putting some lubricant on his chains.
  • Inverted in "Kid Stuff" by Isaac Asimov. An Ultraterrestrial "elf" uses the dad, because he, as a fantasy writer, can accept elves as real, but a comic book raised son proves problematic.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Made-for-TV movie The Haunted had a father who didn't experience any of the supernatural happenings that the other family members was experiencing, Until he was raped by a female ghost/demon.
  • Completely averted in Supernatural, since the father is the one that finds the mother's body trapped on the ceiling, sees the ceiling light on fire, and then spends the rest of his life seeking out the demon that did it so he can avenge his wife. And he immerses himself in the supernatural and even raises his sons like soldiers to take over "the family business" when they grow up.
  • In The Miraculous Mellops, the father and some other adults don't believe in anything outside an ordinary lifestyle. While the father is affected by one supernatural event and the aunt suddenly learns forign languages, they still doesn't believe it's supernatural, and thinks the kids are still playing games.
  • In Round the Twist, Tony Twist, father of the three kid protagonists, is the last to believe the ghost in the first episode is real. Despite continuing strange goings on in Port Niranda, he's also most prone to Arbitrary Skepticism.
  • In American Horror Story: Murder House Ben takes much longer than the others to realize something is going on, despite this requiring some Selective Obliviousness. After seeing Hayden killed and helping bury her and building a gazebo over her body, when he sees her ghost he decides she faked her death.
  • Discovery Channel has a surprisingly creepy show about real-life hauntings called A Haunting, and it's usually the father/husband who's the last to freak out. In some episodes, he never acknowledges whatever weirdness drove his family from their home. Some examples seem to imply that whatever may have been haunting the family was specifically aiming for this trope, by only tormenting the ones that believe most and driving a wedge between the family members when they still don't believe. In fact most of the POV seems to be that of women recalling their ordeal. Although most of the males on the show seemed like they were in denial.
  • The Haunted, a show on Animal Planet featuring stories of hauntings connected to the family pets (often very loosely), also often had this trope in effect.
  • 666 Park Avenue: Henry Martin, to frustrating levels, but it could be argued that the Dorans are hiding the supernatural part to him because they plan to lure him in and use him for whatever purpose.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy's father was absent from nearly the entire show, but somehow fits this, since he never gets to find out. An episode even revealed that Buffy told her parents but both didn't believe it, of course, Joyce found out the truth later.
  • Inverted on Happy!, in which Nick (Hailey's father) is the only one who can see the titular Not-So-Imaginary Friend. In this case, it's probably more the fault of the booze, drugs, and recent concussion than Nick being the slightest bit more inclined to believe in such things.
  • So Haunt Me: Initially, Peter can't hear or see Yetta and dismisses his wife and son's stories. Eventually after meeting a neighbour who innocently confirms part of what they've been telling him, he begins to be able to hear (but not see) her. The logic of the show seems to be that you have to believe in ghosts in order to witness them.
  • Stranger Things: As part of his characterization of being completely useless, Ted Wheeler is distant, apathetic and oblivious to everything that's going on in town and within his own family. When things do come to his attention, he immediately believes every cover-up story. This is probably a slight nod to the Disappeared Dad trope found in Steven Spielberg's oeuvre, which is one of the series' primary influences.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dragon: Jake Long invokes this by way of the father being a bit of a Cloudcuckoolander who rest of the family goes to huge lengths to deliberately keep the knowledge that he married into a family of dragons away from him. He eventually finds out in the Grand Finale.
  • Darkwing Duck, "The Haunting Of Mr. Banana Brain": An unusual case in that (given that Darkwing is a single parent) there is no mother to whom to compare him. However, both Launchpad and Gosalyn recognize that the bizarre events surrounding Paddywhack's box are supernatural before Darkwing admits that it isn't just Gosalyn playing pranks and Launchpad freaking out.
  • The Life and Times of Juniper Lee. Similarly to the Jake Long example, Juniper Lee's dad is not aware of The Masquerade because the "chosen one" gene skipped a generation after her grandmother. In fact, it also skipped her older brother, and would've skipped her younger brother if an incident in the past didn't grant him some of June's abilities. The older brother actually finds out many times, they just used a memory spell to wipe his memory each time, but eventually he gets resistant to it, so they clue him into The Masquerade.
  • He's not the father, but Grunkle (Great-Uncle) Stan of Gravity Falls nevertheless plays the role of a father-like figure for Dipper and Mabel while they're staying with him over the summer. He outright denies the existence of the supernatural, and always seems to miss when supernatural beings appear. He actually knew they were real the whole time, and was just faking it trying to stop Dipper and Mabel from getting involved with dangerous creatures.
  • Gender Flipped in Phineas and Ferb—the dad, Lawrence, sees the boys' adventures sometimes, but their mom, Linda, never doesnote , no matter how much Candace tries to show her.