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"Well Done, Dad!" Guy

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Parents love their children very much. They put clothes on their back, food on their table, and made many other sacrifices to assure their safety. Heck, they would beat the living crap out of anyone who tried to harm them. Sometimes, children ought to be grateful for having such awesome parents.

Well, not really. Often, not only do parents teach their children things like being responsible and being kind to others, they would like it even more if their children took pride in them.

Because of this, parents might indignantly accuse their children of being ungrateful bastards, although this isn't always the case for those who are not. There could be valid reasons why children show indifference toward their parents. Maybe parents are a bit strict when it comes to setting rules for their children, especially those who are rebellious and disrespectful, creating further animosity. Maybe parents want to force their children to pursue a particular career, treating their own aspirations as meaningless; in this case, it's all about the Family Business. Also, it could be that the children think they have better things to do, such as playing video games and hanging out with their friends, rather than spending time with their parents. Whatever the reason may be, it shouldn't hurt them to acknowledge who their parents are and what they have done for them. Most cultures and value systems do include some degree of duty to Honor Thy Parent, after all.

Some variations of this trope show that parents aren't always paragons of virtue and that the children who withhold their approval of them may be in the right. Parents who have done some very bad things in the past will want to redeem themselves just for their children's sake, whether it was being abusive, neglectful, distant, etc. It's a long, hard road for parents to seek reconciliation from their children.

The child may show how much they're proud of what their parents have done for them, or at least pardon them for their shortcomings. For cynical portrayals of this trope, the parent-child bond will turn sour, or worse.

Keep in mind that while this trope commonly involves a parent and child, it can also involve an older sibling and a younger sibling, a mentor and a student, and any other equivalent pairing.

This is the inverse of "Well Done, Son" Guy, although both tropes can overlap if the parent and child long for each other's respect but Cannot Spit It Out. An interesting variant would be that the child tries to gain their parent's respect, but, as the years go by, the roles are switched. If parents care about the approval of one child and shun the others, then it's Parental Favoritism.

Compare and contrast Abusive Parents, where the parents don't care about their children, even if they may care for their respect, and Disneyland Dad, where parents give their children big, splashy gifts but don't pay much attention to them only on a daily basis, sometimes due to custodial agreements.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • CLANNAD: One could make a strong case that this is the driving thematic conflict. Tomoya spends most of the story hating his father, and the audience bears witness to his father's nonchalance, drinking habits, and rather messy lifestyle, though the father is continuously confused at why his son hates him so. This culminates in episode 18 of After Story, where Tomoya, now a distant father to his young daughter, speaks with his father's mother about the hard times his dad was going through. Tomoya finally admits that, as horrible a person his dad is, he ultimately did a good job of fathering. This gives him the strength to have a similar moment with his daughter, whom we hear call him "daddy" for the first time, signifying her acceptance of him as her father after he had been so cold to her. This is followed up with the next episode, where Tomoya goes to thank and apologize to his father personally, and we learn that this entire idea was very much on his father's mind the whole time. Finally, the last scene we see in the epilogue is a flashback to a young Tomoya and his dad walking hand-in-hand in a field of flowers, symbolizing their closure.
  • Played for Laughs in Dragon Ball GT: when Vegeta's daughter Bulla demands that Vegeta shave off his mustache, telling him it makes him look like a "total geek", it devastates Vegeta so badly that he reacts as if he just had a Heroic BSoD over a horrific "The Reason You Suck" Speech, complete with a GASP!, Hidden Eyes, a Dramatic Spotlight, and Bulla's voice echoing dramatically in a mocking "total geek..." He then shaves off the mustache the very next day.
  • In Shinji Ikari Raising Project, Shinji seems a bit embarrassed about the way Gendo shows his approval of his son. In stark contrast to the canon version of the series.
  • Soul Eater: Spirit desperately tries to get the respect and love of his daughter, who sympathizes with her mother over him in their divorce. Whenever he saves her life his internal monologue always shows that he hopes Maka can see how cool he's being. Maka appreciates his efforts, but is reluctant to tell him that thanks to her continued animosity towards him (that he continues the behavior that caused the divorce in the first place is a big roadblock between the two). Ironically enough, Maka was very much a Daddy's Girl as a child, and elements of this remain in the present, even if masked by her animosity.
  • In Tiger & Bunny, the only person Kotetsu really cares about winning the respect and approval of is his daughter, Kaede. Later on, Barnaby starts feeling this way with respect to Kotetsu.
    Barnaby: I just aspire to be someone worthy of his trust.

    Comic Books 
  • Daredevil's late father "Battlin'" Jack Murdock was this for Matt. No matter how much Matt expressed that he looked up to his father, Jack always shrugged it off because his own lack of self-worth made him believe that he didn't deserve his son's respect and love, causing him to push Matt to get a higher education rather than follow in his footsteps as a boxer. Jack's death was brought about by him finally deciding to refuse to take a dive, not caring about the consequences because he felt he'd finally earned Matt's approval.

    Fan Works 
  • All for One of all people is this in Conversations with a Cryptid. He deeply regrets what his abandonment did to his family (he left in the first place in fear his enemies would find them), and spends most of the sequel trying to make up for it.
  • Nobody Dies: Asuka plays this up to the point where Kyoko is an outright Abusive Parent, but it also remains a facet of Shinji's relationship with his father; Gendo might be a lot less messed up with Yui still at his side, but he isn't prone to overt displays of emotion and it's not always obvious that yes, he does love his son. They spend a fair chunk of the story working through this.
  • A Taste of the Good Life has Ebby, a recovering alcoholic who spends much of the story trying to regain the trust of her daughter, ultimately succeeding with the help of Scootaloo's adoptive father.
  • In Slice of Souls!, Ornstein is this to his daughter Zoe. The reason he takes her hiking on her birthday is that he feels he's been neglectful and wants to impress her. Ironically, Ornstein is actually a pretty capable father and most of his insecurities are because of Smough taunting him.
  • To Hell and Back (Arrowverse): Malcolm Merlyn, of all people, becomes this to his illegitimate son Oliver. This is justified by the fact that he basically ruined Oliver's life, something he already felt plenty guilty of; learning of their true relation just makes it worse, and it becomes clear that Malcolm is willing to do anything to make up for it short of giving up the Undertaking itself. What further complicates matters is that Oliver is completely unaware of the situation — he just sees Malcolm as his distant but loving godfather, and then as his worst enemy after learning that he sabotaged the Gambit. What's more, Malcolm can't tell him the truth due to the Queens forbidding it, making Malcolm's chances of reconciling with Oliver nonexistent.
  • Surprisingly, Gendo Ikari becomes this to Shinji in A Crown of Stars when he is forced to face how badly he messed his son's life up, and he is told that his wife will not take him back unless or until he earns Shinji's forgiveness.
  • In The Silmarillion fanfiction A Boy, a Girl and a Dog: The Leithian Script, the House of Finwe is such a screwed-up mess that Finarfin and Fingolfin looked for affirmation from their children since they couldn't get approval from their father. It didn't work well at all.
  • Achilles' Heel: Lusamine is trying to better herself and her relationship with her kids. She wants their trust but, at the same time, doesn't believe she deserves it after years of being an abusive mother.
  • The Unfantastic Adventures of Bizarro No. 1: Backwards creature or not, Bizarro really doesn't want to let his son down. Bizarro's so worried about getting Junior a "good" gift for Father's Day (it's complicated), it's cute.
  • The Black Sheep Dog Series: Despite claiming that he doesn't care about his wayward elder son, Orion Black does crave Sirius's respect, and has to restrain himself from beating Sirius when the latter goes out of his way to insult him because he doesn't want to "confirm [Sirius's] worst assumptions about [him]".
  • A Year To Fill An Empty Home: For almost the entire year that their son Akira is on probation in Tokyo, the mantra that practically gets Kurusu Takeshi and his wife Chou out of bed in the morning is, “You need to be strong for Akira.” When Akira finally returns home and calls his parents out for seemingly abandoning him, his father outright tells him that all the Character Development they've done over the year was "To become worthy of calling [him] [their] son".

    Films — Animation 
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: Aaron Davis wants nothing more in life than for his beloved nephew Miles Morales to look up to him as a role model despite his criminal past. To the point that it's implied to have contributed to him becoming the Prowler, having either invented the identity to look cool before getting caught up in Kingpin's gang or decided to work with Kingpin to get the money necessary to support a lifestyle he thought would impress Miles.
    Aaron: I'm sorry. I just... wanted you to look up to me. I let you down, man, I let you down.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Gladiator, the relationship between Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius and his son, Commodus, is established as troubled from the start due to their diverging personalities. When Aurelius attempts to reason with Commodus over the latter being passed over as successor, he tells him that his "faults as a son, is [his] failure as a father". Commodus doesn't take that well.
  • Joe Brody of Godzilla (2014). As a result of the death of his wife Sandra at Janjira and his subsequent development into a Properly Paranoid Conspiracy Theorist investigating what really caused the plant to collapse, he has become estranged from his son Ford, who thinks all his dad's crazy-sounding theories are just a pathetic attempt keep from moving on from that grief like he has. The fact that the first time in years Ford meets up with Joe is to retrieve him after he got arrested trying to sneak into the Janjira quarantine zone didn't help either.
  • In the Name of the Father: Gerry knows full well that his dad Giuseppe isn't happy with his life of petty theft and doing drugs. While at first he doesn't much care and disrespects Giuseppe, after they're imprisoned together Gerry starts to feel bad over his past. He comes to see that Giuseppe isn't a weak failure like he'd thought, but far stronger than him in fact (despite being physically frail). Gerry slowly comes to gain new respect for his father, and they grow much closer than before. Sadly, after this Giuseppe dies, but it helps to give Gerry zeal for proving their innocence in time.
  • Both Juan and Lazaro in Juan of the Dead.
  • In That's My Boy, Donny spends most of the film trying to gain his estranged son's approval. Initially, his son was so embarrassed by his Manchild father and the circumstances which led to his birth (a Teacher/Student Romance between his then-preteen father and adult mother) that he changed his name from Han Solo to Todd Peterson. His antics during the film only make things worse. When Donny saves his son from marrying his seemingly nice fiance, Todd proudly takes back his original name.
  • Ultraman Cosmos: The First Contact has this dynamic between the protagonist, the then-10-year-old Musashi Haruno, and his stepfather, Yujiro, as Musashi's biological father, an astronaut, died in a space mission 5 years prior to the movie. Despite being merely a stepdad, Yujiro tries his best to be a good father and role model to his stepson, encouraging Musashi at every turn and inspiring the boy to excel at everything he does. By the end of the movie, Musashi finally got over his depression and had then accepted Yujiro as a father figure.
  • In Violent Saturday, Shelley Martin knows that his eldest son Stevie is ashamed of him because he did not serve in World War II. (His job as mine supervisor at a copper mine was considered vital for the war effort and he was forbidden to enlist.) He is attempting to reconnect with Stevie when he is taken hostage by the bank robbers. His need to prove himself leads him to stage a "Die Hard" on an X, and he is instrumental in defeating the robbers. The end of the film shows that his son now regards him as a hero.
  • In Warrior, Paddy Conlon, who was an alcoholic dad, tries to seek forgiveness from his son Brendan, who was under-appreciated in favor of his brother Tommy. Despite being reluctant about it, Brendan eventually forgave his father.
  • Deconstructed in The Wrestler. Randy Robinson has let down his daughter Stephanie for not being around her a lot due to reliving his glory days in the wrestling ring and didn't get the chance to once again redeem himself in her eyes after he failed to keep his promise to have dinner with her.

  • In The Truce at Bakura of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, we have Anakin Skywalker who was a Force ghost expresses to Leia how he is really proud of her, but she became angry with him due to the atrocities he had committed in his reign as Darth Vader. Later on, though, she does come around, albeit uneasily.
  • Inverted in one of the two third Red Dwarf novels (it's confusing), Last Human. Arnold Rimmer is understandably dejected when his long lost son has been sorely disappointed to learn that the heroic feats of his father were a fiction invented by his mother and that the reality is that his father is a sniveling coward. Then, in the end, Rimmer performs an incredibly brave (if a bit reckless) feat; even though he kind of screws up the execution (though it does accomplish the intended end) his son, looking on, is incredibly proud of the act. Seeing his son beaming with pride, Rimmer is finally freed of the neurosis that has plagued his entire existence which ultimately leads to him selflessly volunteering for a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • In The Zombie Knight, Hector's mother actually admits when he asks that she never loved him. She isn't exaggerating.
  • The Diviners (1974): Christie and Prin Logan took in Morag when her parents died of scarlet fever. Her childhood was very difficult, as the adopted daughter of the town garbageman and an obese, prematurely senile woman. When Christie is in the hospital, during his last days, Morag finally admits that he was a good father to her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Jolene Barnes of Nashville: pretty much a "Well Done, Mom" gal. Though she's a neglectful, irresponsible drug addict for most of her daughter Juliette's life, she seems to want to kick the drugs so she can win back her love. Juliette, unsurprisingly, is too damaged to trust her. Jolene ultimately shows her love by killing the guy who swindled beaucoup bucks from Juliette and tried to get even more via a sex tape. Tragically, she then kills herself...
  • Paul Sr. from American Chopper tries to repair his broken relationship with his son Paul Jr. in the Grand Finale of American Chopper: Senior Vs. Junior after he fired him from the previous series which lead to its Cancellation.
  • Paul Hennessey on 8 Simple Rules, who really valued the love and affection of his two teenage daughters and son.
  • Clay Morrow on Sons of Anarchy was this towards his stepson Jax Teller in the early seasons. Clay clearly cared about Jax and wanted him to love him as a father figure and mentor, but Jax only respected him as club president. From Season 4 onwards Clay stopped trying to become Jax's father as a sign of his rowing selfishness and disconnect from the fraternity of the Sons. He tried to claim that his more dubious actions were for Jax's future, but Jax doesn't believe him.
  • Psych: With Henry and Shawn, though it's far from one-sided. One of the reasons why Shawn hated Henry so much was because he blamed him for the divorce between him and Shawn's mother (he took the blame because he didn't want Shawn to resent his mother), though he mostly resents him for the Training from Hell.
    • Juliet's father, who she rejected for being a lying conman, never being home, and abandoning her and her brothers. Now that she's an adult, he wants to atone and is trying to win back her respect and affection.
  • On Angel, the titular character constantly seeks the approval and loyalty of his son Connor. This is complicated by the fact that Connor's a Broken Bird teetering on the edge of sanity who spent his entire childhood in a hell dimension, being raised by his adoptive father to consider Angel a dangerous monster whom Connor was destined to kill.
  • In Once Upon a Time, both Regina/the Wicked Queen, and Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin perform a heel-face turn primarily to get the respect and love of their respective children, Henry and Baelfire.
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Calvin Johnson would like for his daughter Daisy to love and accept him despite his long absence from her life and his tendencies toward supervillainy. His daughter tries giving him attention and approval in order to see if doing so will curtail his violent behavior. This doesn't work.
  • In season 9 of HowIMetYourMother, Daphne is trying to get to her daughter's Model-U.N. speech in time because the daughter has started like her father more than her mother lately.
  • One episode of Full House has Danny worried DJ doesn't think he's as cool as Jesse or Joey, and tries WAY too hard to look like a badass rocker so she'll think he's cool enough to take part in a fundraiser party she's organized. It fails miserably, DJ's embarrassed beyond belief and Danny decides not to take part in the festivities. Thankfully it ends happily when DJ asks him to sing after all, and he picks a song and a performance method that's not quite so over the top.
  • Monk: In "Mr. Monk and the Daredevil," Harold is framed as being the masked daredevil The Frisco Fly as part of a failed plot by his cousin Joey to kill him and Make It Look Like an Accident. Harold doesn't set the record straight, mainly because he doesn't want to lose the new sense of respect his son is showing him after years of being embarrassed by Harold's OCD.

  • The song "Cat's in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin starts out with a father being too busy to hang out with his son. By the end, the son is too busy to hang out with his aged father.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • This is behind most of AJ Styles's face heel turns in TNA following the goofy Wrestling/Christian Coalition\Angle Alliance angle. Basically Styles was seduced by Kurt Angle's wife Karen into merging the two groups together and found this so embarrassing that he overcorrects in his efforts to be a loyal family man, often resulting in him playing into the hands of still more manipulators like Ric Flair and Eric Bischoff.
  • This was used to explain why Paradise became so much nastier when WOW was revived. The original run had been syndicated, leading her so to ask "Why she didn't do that any more" and Paradise was embarrassed by her son watching her lose matches.

  • Jean Valjean of Les Misérables may be a variation; though he has Cosette's love and devotion, he is terrified of losing her respect if she finds out about his convict past.

    Video Games 
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, Apollo Justice is this to his foster dad Dhurke Sahdmadhi. Dhurke makes a surprise visit to see Apollo... after leaving him in America at least a dozen years prior. Dhurke is constantly talking to his adopted son and trying to make a connection or even get a smile out of him, but Apollo refuses. Things eventually get better as Apollo finally comes around and acknowledges Dhurke, and even comes to appreciate him.
  • In The Devil on G-String, Kanesaki Ikuko desperately seeks the approval of her daughter Azai Kanon, despite forcefully pushing her to do figure skating to fulfill her dream of being an Olympic gold medalist. She constantly dishes out over-the-top praise, gives her whatever she wants, and generally spoils her. While Kanon appears to accept this at first, she grows increasingly distant towards her, stopped calling her Mom, and moved in with her brother. Eventually, Kanon sees through her veil and nearly decides to drive her to suicide, holding back at the last moment when she realised that, despite all that Ikuko had done to her, Ikuko was her mother.

  • In Homestuck, John is quite annoyed with his dad telling him how proud he is of him to the point that it's become redundant, leading John to become angsty about himself not worthy of his dad's respect. The two did get along better, though.

    Web Original 
  • Tenshirock from Noob, who also happens to be oblivious to his son's Inferiority Superiority Complex. That resulted in his son resenting him each time he attempted to impress him in the backstory, to the point that the two have grown estranged in the main timeframe. They eventually make up near the end of Season 5.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Hunson Abadeer loves his vampire daughter Marceline and cares about her approval, but has, on a couple of notable occasions, either hurt her or forced her into something in which she has no interest. It doesn't help that he pretty much abandoned her as a child, which led to her Simon being her Parental Substitute.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Timmy Turner's dad is, when not unwittingly contributing to Timmy's Hilariously Abusive Childhood, desperately trying to make his son proud.
  • Family Guy: In the episode "Peter's Daughter" (at least just for one episode), Peter vows to become a better father to Meg after saving her from a flood which put her into a coma. Meg begins to appreciate him, but unfortunately, Peter takes it too far when Michael comes in the mix.
    • In "April in Quahog", Peter admits that he hated his kids. The whole episode has him trying to win back the love the kids had for him, so at the end, he buys an X-Box and the kids automatically love him again.
  • In Gargoyles, if Fox would show the slightest respect for honor, morality, heck, even respect for other people's property rights, her father Halcyon Renard would give her his full approval and mega-corporation in an instant. Instead, she tries to bankrupt him so her husband Xanatos can buy the business because she considers corporate espionage and sabotage more fun.
  • Goofy in Goof Troop and A Goofy Movie really wants his son Max to think he's cool.
  • Kim Possible: In the episode "Mathter and Fervent", Mr. Stoppable spends the episode doing things like wearing a cape, volunteering at the fire department (ending up as a cook), and coming along on a mission to get Ron to write the assignment on his hero about him.
  • Little Johnny Jet, by Tex Avery, has a very similar premise. B-29 Bomber John can't get a job because everyone is looking for jets instead. His feelings of inadequacy are compounded when he and his wife Mary's (a Douglas DC-3) newborn son Junior turns out to be a jet as well. John decides to enter a contest for jets to land a huge contract to provide for his family and to prove to himself and to Junior that a bomber like him still has value. In the end, Junior bails him out, which shows John that he doesn't need to prove anything to his son. Which is good, since the military is so impressed by Junior that they place an order for 10,000 more jets just like him.
    • Another cartoon One Cab's Family has some aspects of this. The father wants his son to be a taxi cab just like him and is burdened on him being interested in being a hot rod convertible. But that changed when the son chooses the taxi cab and now everything is set right with the father. Though his son still uses a hot rod engine.
  • Looney Tunes: Sylvester wouldn't even try to tangle with the "giant mouse" (baby kangaroo) if it weren't for his son.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Dr. Doofenshmirtz' relationship with his daughter Vanessa revolves around this. In Vanessa's case, she's quite annoyed with his father's pestering and tries to convince her mom that he's evil. However, in episodes such as "Dude, We're Getting The Band Back Together" and "Finding Mary McGuffin", she does show appreciation for Doofenshmirtz.
  • The Simpsons: In one episode, Homer becomes a bodybuilder and tries to climb Springfield's tallest mountain, the Murderhorn, in a bid to impress Bart. Various other episodes have him doing whatever he can to gain Lisa and Maggie's respect (which it's not easy, with him being not as smart as either of them, his own rampant Jerkassery, and the show's Negative Continuity), to varying degrees of success by episode's end.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Mr. Krabs seems to have this relationship with Pearl in some episodes, such as "Squeaky Boots" and "Whale Of A Birthday", despite Pearl being sometimes annoyed with him.