Last month we took a look at the most memorable mother’s of video games for Mother’s Day. Now, it’s time for video gaming’s greatest and most iconic fathers!
Barret Wallace (Final Fantasy VII)
When we are first introduced to Barret Wallace, he is the leader a secret, underground resistance organization called AVALANCHE. The group engages in acts of eco-terrorism against the all-powerful and corrupt Shinra Electric Power Company. Brash, brutish, prone to violence, and a bit rough around the edges, deep down inside Barrett has a heart of gold.
As altruistic, benevolent, and good-intentioned his cause to fight and save the planet from the clutches of Shinra is, his reasons for fighting are far more personal and close to the heart than he lets on. He fights for the planet to ensure safety, welfare, and a future for his four year old daughter Marlene. He truly loves and cares for her. This is exemplified best in the scene after he finds out Aeris had taken Marlene to safety before Shinra’s destruction of the Sector 7 Pillar, where the player finds Barret hugging, clutching, and bawling over his slightly confused but comforted daughter.
Barret often has internal struggles and guilt over his balance between fighting to save the world and taking care of his daughter. This is perfectly encapsulated in his personal musings to Aeris’ adoptive mother, Elmyra, trying to explain himself: “I think about it all the time. What would happen to Marlene, if I… But you gotta understand somethin’ …I don’t got an answer. I wanna be with Marlene… But I gotta fight. ‘Cause if I don’t… the planet’s gonna die. So I’m gonna keep fightin’! But, I’m worried ’bout Marlene. I really just wanna be with her… always. See? I’m goin’ in circles, now.”
We all know doing the right as a parent is never easy, and often requires sacrifice. Nevertheless, the fact that Barret is willing to face Shinra (let alone, the sheer insanity and megalomania of Sephiroth) to ensure Marlene and countless other children a chance at a future is why Barret makes such an excellent father.
Mike Haggar (Final Fight)
The best fathers would do anything and everything to keep their children out of harm’s way and danger. So when professional wrestler-turned-mayor of Metro City, Mike Haggar, discovers that the Mad Gear street gang (in their rashly stupid and ill-planned attempts at coercion) kidnapped his daughter Jessica, he does what every muscle bound, red-blooded, Ron Swanson-approved mustache rocking, all-American father would do.
He proceeds to recruit the help of youngbloods, Guy and Cody, and goes on a rampage of vigilante justice to punch, kick, and pile-drive his way through every worthless piece of street vermin to get her back. And shouldn’t he? That is his daughter and that is his city those street thugs are messing around with – the Mad Gears never stood a chance.
Dr. Light (Mega Man)
While not a father in the classical biological father-and-son understanding of the term, it is important to realize that fathers can exist in all forms and contexts. Furthermore, fatherhood is not merely a title or label; it is the encapsulation of a certain string of qualities and values that embody strength, guidance, and compassion. Thus, our next spotlight focuses on Dr. Thomas Light and his relationship with his greatest creation & son – Mega Man.
Prior to the first Mega Man game, it is revealed that Dr. Thomas Light is a world famous roboticist who wanted the help the world by creating a series of household and industrial service robots. However, the successes and celebrity of Dr. Light drove his former colleague and rival, Dr. Wily, down a path of jealousy and evil. Dr. Wily stole Dr. Light’s creations and re-purposed them as weapons to succeed in his plans for world domination.
In order to save the world, Dr. Light transformed his robot lab assistant Rock into the heroic Mega Man. While creating Rock, in the image of a real boy, Dr. Light instilled into Rock a strong sense of good, justice, and morality which can be largely attributed to personality characteristics of the former. While some may consider it a tad reckless for Dr. Light to send his own son into a one-man war against countless enemies, the Robot Masters, and Dr. Wily himself – Dr. Light isn’t sending in Mega Man empty-handed. He serves as a support role, a voice of guidance, and a supplier of new tech and abilities to help Mega Man save the world.
Furthermore, to give Mega Man a true family, Dr. Light had also created Roll, his sister, and Rush, his trusty canine companion.
Harry Mason (Silent Hill)
Similar to good o’ Mike Haggar, Harry Mason from the original Silent Hill horror game shows us the incredible lengths a father would go to to bring their child back home. While we are not trying to downplay the epicness of Hagar’s crusade on the criminal underworld to get his daughter back, it does not hold a candle to the brave actions of Harry, who willingly descended into a hellish world of nightmares in search of his seven year old daughter Cheryl.
First, let’s back track a bit. Cheryl is not the biological child of Harry and his former wife Jodie, but that is irrelevant because Harry loved Cheryl all the same. At the age of 25, Harry and Jodie were married and had found baby Cheryl abandoned on the side of the road. They took her in and adopted her into the family for the next three years. Jodie later died due to a terminal illness, leaving Harry alone to raise Cheryl. One day, during a road trip with Cheryl to Silent Hill on vacation, a mysterious apparition in the form a teenage girl appeared in front of his car, causing him to lose control and veer off the road. Harry later awakens to find Cheryl missing.
What later transpires is a descent into horror and madness while running into and confronting cults, dark rituals, demonic nurses, and of course this bloody bugger – the damn Incubus. In a bizarre turn of events, Harry is allowed to leave the hellish world of Silent Hill with a newborn – the reincarnation in body and soul of both Cheryl and Alessa Gillespie combined. This new child would later become Heather, whom Harry loved and cared for no less, even despite the phantasmagorical events that led to her birth. In so many ways, Harry Mason is the true embodiment of fatherly unconditional love.
James McCloud (Star Fox)
Next on our list is the legendary James McCloud, father to Fox McCloud from the Star Fox series. This legendary, sunglass-wearing ace pilot had first formed the mercenary space fight squadron, the Star Fox team. His astonishing piloting skills was only matched by his incredibly sense of loyalty to his friends. Despite being pilots for hire, McClouds’ team only pursued and profited from missions that upheld the tenets of good, justice, and balance across the cosmos.
Unfortunately, by the beginning of the events set in Star Fox 64, it was revealed that James had long been missing and dead at the hands of the malevolent Andross, while Fox was but a cadet pilot at the Cornerian Defense Army Academy. Galvanized by his death, but inspired by his father’s memory and legacy, Fox assumed his father’s role as leader in a new generation of Star Fox fighters. Like all fathers, James succeeded no less in consistently inspiring his son to become not only a hero, but a legend.
Perhaps the most harrowing and touching moments between father and son is the surprise second ending during Star Fox 64, after the defeat of Andross’ final form. With the impending destruction of Venom at hand, taking a particular route prompts the appearance of James saying the words to his son “Don’t ever give up, my son.” James then leads Fox’s Arwing out of Andross’ citadel as it collapses all around them. Upon successfully escaping, James mysteriously disappears in the void, but not before leaving Fox with the final words “You’ve become so strong, Fox.”
Whether or not, James was truly there or appearing as a figment of Fox’s imagination, it shows us that our fathers never really leave us and will always be there to guide us in the darkest of times.
James (Fallout 3)
In one of the most unique video game openings in recent memory, countless fans of Fallout 3 will recount memories of you, as the Lone Wanderer, being brought into the world and meeting for their first time one of the most caring and loving fathers you could ever hope to find in the post-apocalypse – James.
James welcomes to you into the world with warmth, happiness, pride, and excitement for your future. Despite your mother dying shortly after childbirth or living within the confines of Vault 101, this does not stop James from giving you as loving and normal a childhood as any. He was there with you when you took your first steps. He organizes quite a smashing 10th surprise birthday party for you. He even goes to the extra mile by giving you your very own BB gun – no doubt a luxury in his post-nuclear world that is for sure.
If there weren’t enough reasons to love James, how about this fun fact? James was voiced by the none other than Liam Neeson, well renowned for playing another father with a “very particular set of skills.”
Eli Vance (Half-Life 2)
Eli Vance – genius, scientist, engineer, inventor, innovator. The man holds many titles and claims to fame; however, Eli is a family man through and through. Husband to Azian Vance and father to Alyx Vance (who will later be Gordon Freeman’s partner in crime for the rest of the game), when the fallout of the Resonance Cascade incident at the Black Mesa Research Facility occurred, Eli had escaped with his daughter, a family photo, and his wedding band. Unfortunately, Azian had died during the incident.
Despite these hardships, he still manages to being a loving and supporting father to Alyx. The two are extremely close, and Eli demonstrates time and again how willing he is to ensure the safety of his daughter. For example, while she was still young, Eli had created Dog, a “pet” robot guardian and companion, programmed to protect her. Eli always wanted the best for Alyx and her future. He would often be curious about Gordon and Alyx’s relationship, and hinting to Alyx that he would not mind if Gordon and Alyx would have grandchildren for him to spoil.
Players could truly see and feel how much love Eli had not only for Alyx, but Gordon too, as Eli expresses to our protagonist how proud he would be to have a son like him. This dynamic makes it all the more heart-wrenching and devastating in the final shocking moments of the Half-Life Episode 2, when we witness Eli being killed at the hands of the Advisors and his body being cradled by a grieving Alyx. Does anyone have a tissue?
Lee Everett (Telltales’ The Walking Dead)
While researching for the best father figures in video gaming, a pattern has revealed itself where upon the best and noblest are born out of extreme circumstances – namely, a post-apocalyptic scenario. If you were a kid that found yourself right smack in the middle of a zombie apocalypse – who would you want to be with? Rick Grimes from the AMC’s The Walking Dead? I don’t think so – all he does is yell at you to stay in the house, takes away your means of defending yourself against the undead, and forces you to be a farmer.
In the impending zombie outbreak, there’s no papa to better be around with than Lee Everett from Telltales’ The Walking Dead video game franchise. Similar to other characters on this list, you don’t need to be related by blood to be a great parent. Throughout the series, Lee goes through herculean efforts to physically protect Clementine from all sorts of dangers. Furthermore, he tries to emotionally buffer and acclimate Clementine to successfully cope with the inherent insanity that arises from zombie apocalypse, in which man and society itself can be more dangerous than the walkers themselves.
The father-daughter dynamic between Lee and Clementine shows the incredible sense of trust and interdependence that is necessary for making through each day of an zombie-infested landscape. Their mutual experiences gives each other strength and courage to move forward. For Lee in particular, becoming a father to Clementine also acts as a form of redemption and atonement for the crimes in his committed prior to the zombie outbreak.
For Clementine, having Lee as a father and protector helps her to retain some semblance of normalcy and order in stark contrast to the hellish world around her. Under Lee’s tutelage and care, Clementine has become a more capable, savvy, and resourceful survivalist. The close, symbiotic, and invested relationship between the two only makes the impact of the final chapter of Season One (*spoilers*) all the more heart-wrenching & meteoric, when Lee either becomes killed or infected.
We raise our glasses to you, Lee. You were one of the greats.
Big Daddy, a.k.a. “Mr. Bubbles” (BioShock)
Any list of video game father figures would be remiss without the iconic mascots of the critically acclaimed BioShock games – the Big Daddy and the Litter Sisters. Technically speaking, the armored behemoths that are the Big Daddies are not fathers in the biological sense. They were heavily augmented and genetically altered humans that were psychologically conditioned to bond with and protect the Little Sisters. Nevertheless, the Big Daddy exemplifies the father-like role of guardian to its most extreme and ultimate end – as it uses rocket launchers, drill arms, rivet guns, and its fists to ensure no harm comes to the Little Sisters.
The Big Daddies compose themselves with delicacy and care when escorting their young charges around the confines of Rapture. The Little Sisters reciprocate this with love and affection by generally calling the Big Daddies by the monikor “Mr. Bubbles.” Furthermore, when a Big Daddy is killed, a Little Sister will often mourn the death of its protector. You just had to go and off poor Mr. Bubbles to get a fix for your ADAM addiction, didn’t you? At the cost of the life of the Little Sister, no less. You monster.
Joel (The Last of Us)
In the critically acclaimed post-apocalyptic game, The Last of Us, Joel is constantly defined by and evolves through a formative lens of fatherhood. In the shocking beginning of the game, we look on in suspense and horror as Joel, his brother, and his daughter (Sarah) to try to escape Austin, Texas as it begins to be overrun by Infected. In an effort to contain the virus’ spread, a military order to kill all civilians results in the tragic death of Sarah by a soldier. Something fragile, beautiful, and compassionate died within Joel that day – in the 20 years hence, he becomes a battle-hardened, tough, survivalist, and smuggler.
However, when given a special assignment to escort a young girl named Ellie, who seemingly holds the ultimate key to mankind’s survival, Joel’s inner capacity for love and fatherhood is rekindled in the long journey with her. In the beginning, the relationship was rocky and shaky due to several unforeseen incident and mishaps. Joel also struggles in his guilt in failing to save Sarah, who he sees much of in Ellie.
Over time, these misgivings are resolved and a mutual bond of love and trust begins to form – most notably during the wintertime, where the skills and experience passed down to Ellie from Joel allow her to fend, survive, and take care of the both of them while Joel is horribly injured and close to dying. The bond between them grows even stronger after a terrifying incident occurring in which Ellie was forced to kill cannibals that were sure to kill them. It is at this point Joel swears to do everything in his power to protect and take care of his new surrogate daughter and to spare her from Sarah’s fate.
This power of fatherly love was so overwhelming, it actually caused Joel to intervene in the critical operations of the Fireflies that intended to create a vaccine for the infection – the medical procedure likely to kill Ellie in the process. Between the fates of millions of lives that could be saved versus the life of his surrogate daughter, Joel fights his way through the entire Firefly compound to rescue and escape with Ellie. Risking the fate of the entire world to ensure you own daughter would live – if that’s not an act of courageous father, than I don’t know what is.
Which video game father do you think is best? Is there some other fatherly character you feel should be mentioned here? Feel free to comment and share below!