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9 Iconic On-Screen Dads And The Life Lessons They’ve Taught Us

Salva Mubarak
Senior Features Writer

From teaching us how to ride a bicycle to explaining patiently how we can balance a chequebook, our dads have had a lot to do with the kind of people we’ve become today. While there’s a lot we’ve learned from our real dads, there’s a lot that some of these iconic on-screen fathers have taught us. Over the years, we’ve seen some incredible, and some questionable, portrayals of fatherhood on-screen and we decided to take a look at some of our favourites and list down what we’ve learned from them. Why? Because dads, both on-screen and off-screen, can be a treasure trove of valuable life lessons and guidance. Happy Father’s Day!

Modern Family’s Phil Dunphy

Dunphy family’s loveable patriarch has literally written a book on valuable life lessons, titled Phil’s-osophies (“If you love something, set it free. Unless it’s a tiger”). But if there’s one lesson that he has is the importance of embracing our inner child. It will make getting through life much easier!

Star Wars’ Darth Vader

Hear us out! Life lessons can be gleaned from the most unexpected of sources, even from one of the most iconic movie bad guys of all time. Aside from the right way to rock a black cape unironically, the one thing we can learn is picking the right moment to drop momentous, life-changing news on people. When someone is hanging on for their dear life to a shaky pole, after you’ve chopped off their hands using your lightsaber, is not the ideal time.

How I Met Your Mother’s Ted Mosby

Ted Mosby might be the only dad in the world who could have managed to get his kids to sit for years to listen to him ramble on about how many women he slept with before getting married to their mother. If there’s one thing he was able to teach us through nine long seasons is to not be afraid of opening your heart to love. You might get hurt at times, but you can also experience the true joy of living once you learn to do that.

The Addams Family’s Gomez Addams

Yes, he is “mysterious and spooky” but he is also one of the best models for a father and husband. He is attentive, generous, and compassionate with his children. He is also heartwarmingly devoted to his wife and the woman we all wish we could grow up to be Morticia Addams. He has taught us that there’s no shame in being thoroughly whipped for your partner and spending hours expressing to them how much you love and adore them.

Dil Dhadakne Do’s Kamal Mehra

Kamal Mehra might not be getting a ‘Best Dad In The World’ mug anytime soon from his kids, he stepped up when it mattered and that’s what counts. And that’s exactly what we can learn from him. It’s never too late to own up to your mistakes and set things right with the people you love. Forgiveness will follow eventually.

The Lion King’s Mufasa

While the valiant ruler of the jungle could have done with a few lessons himself on how to be wary of his power-hungry kin, Mufasa was a wise guy (or lion, really). The biggest thing he taught us was the importance of respecting people who are different from you. In the memorable ‘circle of life’ conversation with the cub, Mufasa talks about the importance of respecting everyone, “from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope”. This is something we all can do with a reminder of, especially these days.

Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’s Dharamvir Malhotra

Even though he was the antithesis of everything that Simran’s strict and traditional dad was, Dharamvir Malhotra was no pushover. He spoiled his son to no end and let him get away with a lot, but he knew when to reign it in and be the stern yet supportive dad. One of the best things about him was how he did not let his own struggles and traumas dictate what his son’s life should be (unlike the other dad in this movie). That’s something we can all learn and try to apply to our own lives once every while.

Easy A’s Dill Penderghast

Easy A can be credited for bringing about the Tuccainnaissance, or a renewed appreciation for anything Stanley Tucci and we couldn’t be more grateful for it. In the movie, Tucci plays the role of Olive’s father and, just so you know, he’s not a regular dad, he’s a cool dad. From him, we’ve learned that sometimes it’s best to not take life so seriously.

Finding Nemo’s Marlin

You’d think the biggest takeaway from Finding Nemo would be to listen to your parents so that you don’t get lost and kidnapped by strange humans, but it’s actually the opposite. No, that doesn’t mean you should disobey your parents and get kidnapped, but Marlin taught us that sometimes our own fears can be hindering us, and our loved ones, from exploring what we’re truly capable of. Learn from this animated clown fish and discover what you can actually achieve once you stop worrying about what could go wrong.