Archnemesis Dad

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"If you're going to take me on, son, you're going to have to bring your game up to a whole different level."
Lionel Luthor, Smallville

Some fathers just really don't do well by their kids, at all. Some are aloof, remote, and offer scant praise for their children's achievements. Some expect their kids to act like adults from an early age and offer no guidance whatsoever. Some will abandon their kids. Some will come to betray their children at a crucial moment. Some are just downright abusive. Some will even go so far as to try Offing the Offspring. A few, however, will go the extra mile to take every action and every opportunity to foil their children's plans and ruin their lives and become an Archnemesis Dad.

This trope is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a father or father figure who also happens to be a prime candidate for the title of a character's Arch Enemy. He could be anywhere on the Sorting Algorithm of Evil, but whether he's The Big Bad, The Dragon, or something else entirely, any story featuring him is likely to be emotionally charged at the least. Normally this will be a case of It's Personal, and may well include offers of We Can Rule Together, but not always: particularly cold-hearted fathers may declare I Have No Son and treat the child in question as just one more problem to be solved.

Often the result of years of I Hate You, Vampire Dad. Might overlap with Luke, I Am Your Father. See Abusive Dad and Parental Neglect for the more mundane version. See Offing the Offspring and/or Patricide for what this might lead to.

This trope's Distaff Counterpart is the Evil Matriarch. The inversion is Antagonistic Offspring. See Evil Uncle for when it's not dad but his brother who goes out of his way to ruin your day.


Examples of Archnemesis Dad include:

Non-Spoiler Examples[edit | hide | hide all]

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • In Code Geass this is pretty much Emperor Charles zi Britannia's raison d'etre. He has children by 108 different wives and believes the best way to choose a successor to the throne is to pit them all against each other, encouraging backstabbing and assassination at every turn, so that the last one standing will be the strongest and most fit to lead. Prodigal prince Lelouch blames the death of his mother and the crippling of his sister on the Emperor's ruthless parenting style, and he launches a worldwide rebellion against Brittania so he can put an end to this system of sibling rivalry forever. Though, for most of the series, the Emperor doesn't consider Lelouch much of a threat and takes a hands-off approach towards dealing with him.
  • The Fourth Kazekage from Naruto. He placed a known dangerous tanuki-demon into his unborn child Gaara to create a Tyke Bomb for his ninja village. He used his own wife as a Human Sacrifice to complete the act, all (of course) without her consent. When he couldn't train the aforementioned Tyke Bomb to control his powers well, he tries to kill Gaara.
  • Lorenzo Leonelli from Heat Guy J. When he wasn't leaving Clair alone for extended periods of time, he was being physically and emotionally (and many believe sexually) abusive towards Clair. This went on for years, causing Clair to go insane and eventually kill him.
  • In Baki the Grappler, Baki's father is the Big Bad right from the start.
  • The relationship between Shinji and Gendo Ikari is... complicated.
  • Ryuunosuke's father is quite insistent on treating the female Ryuunosuke like a man, down to violent fisticuffs and paralyzing poisons on a regular basis. Her father would only let her act feminine pretty much over his dead body. Ryuunosuke hates her father. Then again, it's Played for Laughs.
  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga Gozaburo Kaiba is an Abusive Dad and Jerkass whom adoptive son Seto Kaiba disposed of in the backstory. In the anime he returns as the Big Bad of the Virtual Nightmare Filler Arc to make one final attempt at revenge. Trapping Kaiba and his allies in his virtual world, Gozaburo uses his biological son, Noah, and his former employees, The Big Five as the muscle in a plot to permanently trap his son and escape back into the world in his body. Defeated by Kaiba, Gozaburo makes a last attempt at Taking You with Me, but is stopped when Noah pulls a Heel Face Turn and sacrifices himself to destroy them both.
    • Also Mr. Ishtar. He has no love for his family, only caring about the clan and their duty to protect the Pharoah (when his wife dies after giving birth to Marik, he carres him away without a care in the world that she's dying). He keeps his family prisoner underground, forbidding them from ever leaving, and is horribly cruel to Odion, seeing him as nothing more than a servant and threatens to kill him in grotesque ways on more than one occasion. But by far the greatest example of his evil is the way he treated his own son at the inituation. Using a knife, he carved hieroglyphic symbols on Marik's back against his will and this act causing Marik excruciating pain, but he didn't care at all, even wearing an evil grin on his face as he tortured his son. Mr. Ishtar is arguably one of the most evil characters in the show.
  • Vinland Saga: Now that King Sweyn is sure that his older son Harold will be able to succeed him on the throne, his younger son Canute becomes a liablity. Canute doesn't like it.
  • In the manga of Fullmetal Alchemist, Father is a strong candidate for the title of Greed's Arch Enemy.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Inverted with Spider-Man. His Arch Enemy, the Green Goblin, is not this, but a major development of the last decade or so is that he more or less imagines he is, seeing Peter - a smart, brave, capable self-made man - as a better son than his own child, Harry. On an older level, Peter's search for a father figure is one of the underlying themes of the comic, and the idea that Osborn - as well as other enemies like Doctor Octopus - are twisted inversions of this has been around for a while.
    • This is also played with in Ultimate Spider-Man, where Osborn's military research (including pieces of Peter's parents' research) leads directly to Peter gaining his powers. And Miles Morales, the new Ultimate Spider-man, got his powers from a stolen spider from Osborn's lab. Osborn keeps unintentionally birthing spidermen.
  • A similar situation exists between Batman and Ra's Al Ghul. He, too, sees Bruce almost like the son he never had, and he actually plans on making him both his heir and his son-in-law by marrying him to his daughter Talia, something both Bruce and Talia are seriously tempted to do.
    • Played straight and then subverted in the Black Glove story arc, where it is implied that the eponymous villain is actually Bruce's dad Thomas, who was really an evil psychopath. Neither allegation turns out to be true, though the real Black Glove, one Doctor Simon Hurt, nonetheless claims to be Thomas Wayne to both Bruce and Alfred's face, even though both men obviously knew he wasn't. It is implied that Hurt is actually Satan himself, though for a moment Batman accuses him of being an actor who used to impersonate his father, which would make this yet another inversion. Hurt denies this and claimed to have killed said actor and wore his skin to a party. So it's a triple subversion, with Hurt being a guy pretending to be a guy who pretended to be Bruce Waynes dad, and pretending to be Bruce's Wayne's dad. Phew!
      • Return of Bruce Wayne suggests that Hurt is Dr Thomas Wayne. Just not that Dr Thomas Wayne...
  • In Fables, the Adversary is revealed to be Geppeto, thereby making him Pinnochio's Archnemesis Dad. Though, this is less explicit, because his son is conflicted about opposing his father explicitly.
  • The android superhero Red Tornado and his creator T.O. Morrow have this dynamic. Several storylines revolve around Morrow's attempts to destroy/manipulate/reprogram his prodigal son.
  • Hank Pym (aka Giant-Man/Ant-Man) and his creation, Ultron, have this relationship with a twist: the son is the villain and the father the hero. Ultron, in a classic case of A.I. Is a Crapshoot, is a genocidal maniac bent on wiping all humanity from the face of the earth. Pym, of course, has informed him that this will happen over his dead body, and has spent years of his life foiling Ultron's schemes and destroying his various incarnations. Depending on the Writer, Ultron is sometimes Big Bad Dad to his own artificial "son", The Vision, who was originally designed as The Mole, but Became the Mask and joined The Avengers, of which Pym is a founding member.
  • The Pride in Runaways is made up of six pairs of Archnemesis Dads and Evil Matriarchs. In a mild subversion, The Pride honestly believe that they are doing the best they can for their children: by destroying the world and allowing the Gibborim to remake it, they will handing their children paradise. With one exception the kids don't agree, and their interference ultimately leads to the deaths of all The Pride's members.
  • At the end of the war between New Genesis and Apokolips, rulers Highfather and Darkseid exchanged their baby sons as part of the peace treaty. Darkseid's son, Orion, was raised a hero (albeit one with anger issues), who plays this about as straight as possible, sometimes going after Darkseid even against the wishes of his adopted father.
  • In All Fall Down, we have IQ to his son, IQ Squared.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Bruce Banner's father, David, in the 2003 Hulk. After performing dangerous tests on himself, some of it was passed on genetically when Bruce was conceived. He attempted to murder Bruce but failed, striking down his wife in the process. Thirty years later, following his release from prison, he tracks down Bruce and attempts to rebuild their relationship while secretly plotting to drain Bruce's powers and alter-ego in order to rebuild his own decaying cellular structure and gain his revenge on the military. A very, very bad dude, though not without his sympathetic moments.
  • Dreverhaven in the Dutch movie Character has such an antagonistic relationship with his son that said son is the prime suspect when Dreverhaven is murdered.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In I Am A Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President, Oliver Watson describes his father as his "archnemesis (a.k.a. Daddy)".
  • One could hardly be a worse father than Georges Leon, the quasi-immortal gambler of Tim Powers' Last Call. He schemes to live on by stealing other people's bodies, including that of his son and the book's hero, Scott Crane. Scott's older brother Richard has already fallen prey to Georges.
  • In Ship Breaker, Nailer's dad, Richard Lopez, takes Abusive Dad Up to Eleven. He starts out as an alcoholic drug-addicted ex-pit fighter who regularly beats his son and threatens to maim or kill him. As the story progresses, he takes over as the main antagonist, seeking to kidnap Nita, whom Nailer has placed under his protection. This culminates in Richard capturing Nita (and plotting to sell her organs on the black market) and a Knife Fight between him and Nailer, who Richard fully intends to disembowel. In the end, Nailer is forced to kill Richard and is left guilt-ridden over the fact that he doesn't feel bad about it. The story does imply that while he was never a great dad, he was once a better person than he is now, and Nailer does have memories of better times that the two of them had, but his actions in the present far outweigh anything he may have done in the past.
  • Tigerstar of Warrior Cats is the Big Bad, with his son Brambleclaw as the hero during the New Prophecy arc. However, while Tigerstar seeks to rule the world, Brambleclaw wants to stop him and says he'd rather die than join him.
  • Ulcis of The Deepgate Codex tried to hang his daughter Rebecca aka Carnival shortly after she was born, then gave her to his henchmen to be raped and tortured. Years later, when she and several others descend into the Abyss, he takes a perverse delight in tormenting her with the memory of what happened, trying to break her all over again.
  • The Millennium Trilogy has Alexander Zalachenko (aka "Zala") and his daughter, Lisbeth Salander. How deep does it go? Lisbeth, as a 12-year-old, tried to burn Zala alive in his car with a homemade Molotov cocktail, and she's the good guy.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • John Locke's father on Lost abandoned him until well into his adult life, at which point he stole his kidney, re-abandoned him, used him as a courier, abandoned him again, and pushed him out of an 8-story window.
    • And even then, Locke was too much of a wuss to actually kill him when he had the chance.
  • Arthur Petrelli in Volume 3 of Heroes.
  • Lionel Luthor of Smallville. His emotional abuse and Social Darwinist views left his son Lex badly screwed up from early childhood. When Lex moves to the titular town Lionel isn't far behind, and begins making life miserable for Lex, his friend Clark, and most of the other residents. He helps to ruin Lex and Clark's friendship, may have tried to have Lex killed in the Season 3 finale, and later attempts to steal his body. Had enough? It gets better. When Lex eventually pulls a Face Heel Turn and becomes the Big Bad, Lionel pulls a Heel Face Turn (courtesy of possession by Jor-El), and becomes something of a Mentor to Clark, ensuring that he and Lex remain at loggerheads until his own death (at Lex's hands). Over the course of seven seasons their relationship managed to encompass Abusive Dad, "Well Done, Son" Guy, Offing the Offspring, and eventually, Self-Made Orphan, to form a beautiful example of this trope at its best.
    • In Season 10, this is revisited when Clark travels to the Alternate Universe of Earth-2 and encounters that world's Lionel, who not only abused Lex and his illegitimate daughter Tess, but also managed to find and raise his reality's Clark and transform him into a Psycho for Hire known as Ultraman, whom he allowed to murder Earth-2 Lex. By the end of the episode he has attempted to beat our Clark (whom he believes to be his Clark) to death for not having killed him already. He later escapes to Earth-1 where he steals LuthorCorp from our Tess and spends several episodes trying to manipulate Lex's unstable clone Alexander/Conner, whom he doses with Red K. When that fails, he kidnaps Tess and tries to cut out her heart for use in resurrecting Lex (though only after discovering that Conner's is unavailable); he is shot by her for his trouble. Interestingly, his last act before he dies is to make a deal with that season's Big Bad, Darkseid, in order to bring the real Lex back, ensuring that he has a proper heir. Phew.
  • C.G.B. Spender of The X-Files to both of his sons. He shoots one of them and attempts to foil the other's plans at every turn (and steal his brain, at one point). Not exactly Father of the Year.
  • In El Internado, Iván's father is the bad guy the main characters know the best, because he is the one who delivers the threats and the medicines.


Mythology[edit | hide]

  • Satan and God are sometimes portrayed this way.
  • In Greek mythology, Cronos had his children fed to him in order to ensure that a prophecy which stated one of his sons would overthrow him would never come to pass. Until Cronos wife fed a stone to Cronos instead of baby Zeus. Zeus then proceeded to free his brothers and sisters from Cronos stomach and promptly kicked Cronos ass.
    • Cronos's father Uranus (the sky) wasn't much better. He feared and hated all of his children so much that he forced them back into Gaia (the earth). Naturally, being forced to keep all of her full grown children inside her at once pissed Gaia off so much that she helped her son Cronos, the youngest and boldest Titan, get revenge on dear ol' dad. She forged a sickle which Cronos used to castrate his own father when Uranus was in the mood for some earth lovin'.
      • In some versions of myth he did not trapped and "was not in the mood" but rather hadn't stopped it in the first place.
    • Fear of the new generation overthrowing the old one is a major running theme in Greek mythology, so there are a lot of examples of fathers becoming enemies of their children. In some tellings of the story, the entire Trojan War was a Batman Gambit by Zeus, who wanted to find a way to kill off his demigod children so they wouldn't overthrow him.
      • This is despite the fact that the closest relative of his was either Zeus' great-nephew or his second cousin (Achilles' mother was Thetis the sea nymph, whose father was either Poseidon, Zeus' brother, or Oceanus, Zeus' uncle). Although most of the heroes did have some percentage of divine blood, it was really no more than just about any prominent person would have.
        • Zeus's son Sarpedon dies fighting for the Trojans, but he seems to be genuinely upset. And Aeneas, the one surviving Trojan, is Zeus's grandson in some versions of the myth. Of course, seeing what happens to Aeneas afterwards...
    • Zeus and Poseidon were unique in that they averted this trope. While they didn't do much in the way of actual parenting, they went out of their way to give gifts and support to their demigod progeny. Poseidon in particular was a Papa Wolf to his son Polyphemus and made Odysseus' journey home a living nightmare for blinding his son.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Every generation of the Mishima clan starting with Heihachi has this issue. Jinpachi was a nice enough guy, but Heihachi hated him anyways, so I guess you could count him too if you wanted. In fact, pretty much the entire main plot of the Tekken series exists because the Mishimas all hate and fight their fathers until they turn corrupt themselves.
  • In Psychonauts, the final boss of Raz and Coach Oleander's minds are their grotesque antagonistic fathers. In Raz's case, it's all in his head -- his dad shows up and helps him defeat the monster.
  • Jecht from Final Fantasy X is an abusive, alcoholic Jerk Jock of a dad. The nemesis relationship between himself and his son Tidus was heightened by the fact that both played the same sport, and Jecht went for the Drill Sergeant Nasty method of teaching and was too vain to admit his son might ever be anywhere near as good as him. Later, he was transformed into the Eldritch Abomination that terrorizes the entire world. Surprisingly, the trope is somewhat subverted, because Jecht becomes increasingly sympathetic as the game goes on, especially as Tidus comes to realizes that some of his Freudian Issues are his own problems and not his father's fault.
  • In BlazBlue, one of the main villains of the game is Carl's father and personal antagonist Relius Clover, who turned Carl's sister into the machine known as Nirvana. Relius used the knowledge from that experiment to make a new and improved version of Nirvana, harvesting Carl's mother in the process. When Carl finally finds and confronts him in Continuum Shift's story mode, Relius tries to kill him for calling him out. Needless to say, they aren't on good terms.
  • This happens to Tiltyu and Lex in Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, since their fathers Leptor and Langobalt are members of a conspiracy led by Alvis. Or better said, by Manfloy from the Lopto Sect.
  • For a series built on parent / creator issues, it's surprising that Mass Effect doesn't have more examples.
    • Urdnot Wrex's father, Jarrod, though Wrex killed him long before the game started.
    • Miranda Lawson's father is obsessed with creating the perfect legacy through Designer Babies. We don't now how many he's gone through, but Miranda wasn't the first one he made, just the first he "kept" - and he was already working on a replacement for her when she was in her teens. She escaped, taking her clone baby sister Oriana with her. Miranda's efforts to keep Oriana out of her father's reach make up the bulk of her character arc.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Inverted on Gaia Online; Labtech X is an Archnemesis Son (sort of).
  • In LessThanThreeComics' Brat Pack, Firestorm's father abused him through his entire life, but the rest of the world only knows him as Napalm, one of America's greatest superheroes.


Surprise Twist Fathers (here be spoilers)[edit | hide]

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • The Big Bad of Tenjho Tenge is Souichiro Nagi's father Sohaku. The guy stole his ex-wife's (Souichiro's beloved mother) eye for its power and chopped off her arm when she tried to stop him and later implanted his own eye into Souichiro as part of his plan to take over Souichiro's body and powers. That's not even getting into his other victims—it's a long list.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Darth Vader is an archetypical example toward both Luke and Leia, though he does, eventually, get better.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Andrew Ryan from BioShock, but it comes as a surprise to him too and he stops trying to kill you when he finds out.
  • The Guy.
  • Father Balder from Bayonetta who is later revealed to be Bayonetta's Father
  • While not a biological father, the Final Boss in Spellcasting 101 turns out to be the hero's abusive stepfather, who's really an evil sorcerer.
  • Kratos Aurion from Tales of Symphonia is this to the main character. Unlike Darth Vader, it results in a much more successful Heel Face Turn.
  • Kratos gets this problem at the end of the second God of War when he finds out Zeus is his father. It takes him the whole of the next game to actually kill him.
  • Xenogears has a few of these.
    • Miang, revealed to be the mother of all humanity, is also the story's Big Bad. And as a BodySurfer who can awaken in any human woman, one of Miang's incarnations was Fei's own mother Karen. Fei and Karen were not technically adversaries, but Miang's consciousness was in control most of the time. Karen resurfaced in the end to be a Heroic Sacrifice to save young Fei's life. Miang simply surfed to another new body somewhere else in the world.
    • Fei's father got some of this too. Grahf, a mysterious and dark adversary of Fei for most of the game, is not only actually himself from a previous life incarnation who survives as a BodySurfer, but it's Fei's own father Kahn who turns out to have been Grahf's host for years already. Though Kahn and Fei are also not technically adversaries, Kahn does all he can just to stay in control of his own body, though Kahn appeared to have even more periods of useful self-control than Karen did.
    • Rico's archnemesis Kaiser Sigmund is actually his father, and neither of them knew they were related.
  • In Jade Empire, not only is Master Li your character's father figure, it's also possible to find out that he's Dawn Star's father. In a subversion, absolutely nothing changes with his reactions to Dawn Star.
  • Nergal is this for Ninian and Nils in Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • In The Order of the Stick, Tarquin wants this for himself and Elan in a bizarre way. He clearly cares about his son and would like him to rule with him, but since Elan won't ignore his atrocities Genre Savvy Tarquin figures that them eventually fighting to the death will at least make an excellent story that could have them live forever in legends. Elan is... somewhat less keen on this plan.
    • Tarquin and his other son, Nale seem to also share this dynamic in an Evil vs. Evil way. They were also former allies, but Nale seems to have betrayed Tarquin at some point, and the two hated each others methods (Nale being Contractually Genre Blind and always eager to show his superiority). Tarquin eventually resolved this by killing Nale himself.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In Codename: Kids Next Door, Numbuh One Nigel Uno is quite understandably freaked out when he realizes that Big Bad Grandfather is his grandfather. This also makes Father his uncle. Inverted with his father who was once the legendary KND operative Agent Zero.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Zuko and Ozai. And during the eclipse, when Zuko renounces trying to be the son Ozai wants, Ozai reveals that he projected to kill him when he was not even in his teens.
  • In Miraculous Ladybug, Hawk Moth is technically this to Cat Noir, although at present, neither knows the dual-identity of the other.