Disappeared Dad

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"What you taught me was that I was less important to you than people who had been dead for 500 years in another country. And I learned it so well that we've hardly spoken for 20 years."

A subtrope of Parental Abandonment: The father of a character or characters is missing or absent.

Perhaps he's died. Perhaps he's left and there's bitterness involved. Perhaps he's off fighting evil. Or maybe it's psychological absence—he's physically there, but is completely negligent in his fatherly duties. Regardless of what happened—and regardless of whether or not the viewers find out what happened—Mom seems to have raised her children on her own, or with the help of a father substitute.

There's a bit of a Double Standard in fiction regarding single parents. A Disappeared Dad is far less likely to have his absence explained than a Missing Mom. When he's not in the picture, it's often taken for granted that he's either dead or a deadbeat. But if he is alive, he is more likely to either return and reconcile, or be a non-entity who sporadically appears just to remind the hero that Daddy doesn't care about them. It is also possible for the Disappeared Dad to have not ever met the child at all or even know that they exist, unlike the Missing Mom, since fathers don't actually have to be present during childbirth. Sometimes, a Disappeared Dad is not aware of being one, when that type of Disappeared Dad is actually an established character, you get Luke, You Are My Father.

However, the flipside is that if both parents are absent, the character is far more likely to be obsessed with his or her lost father. Characters who have lost both parents often do not mention the lost mother at all.

Happens most frequently in animated series, but other media are not immune.

Compare and contrast this with Missing Mom. Combine the two, and you get Parental Abandonment. Sometimes, though, Daddy Had a Good Reason For Abandoning You. If Dad is dead, we may see a Happier Home Movie. If he is simply too busy to be with his child, it's When You Coming Home, Dad?. See also: Tell Me About My Father, So Proud of You, Turn Out Like His Father. Contrast "Well Done, Son" Guy.

Examples of Disappeared Dad include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure runs on this trope. If you're a main character in this series, it's guaranteed that you're going to barely know your father, if at all. Part 1's Jonathon Joestar's father is killed by Jonathon's adoptive brother Dio Brando; Part 2's Joseph Joestar didn't even know his father, since he died before he was born; Part 3's Jotaro Kujo's father is a career musician who is frequently away on tour; Part 4's Josuke Higashikata was conceived during a one-night stand between an elderly Joseph and a young woman he met; Part 5's Giorno Giovanna's father, Dio Brando, was killed by Jotaro during the events of Part 3; Part 6's Jolyne Kujo suffers from the same daddy issues that her father Jotaro did in his youth, although in this case it's slightly subverted as Jotaro distanced himself from his daughter for her own good; and Part 7's Johnny Joestar's father actually DOES happen to be present in his life, but he resents Johnny due to him accidentally killing his older brother. Whew.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion. The whole awful mess started when the Disappeared Dad came back.
    • While Shinji's Disappeared Dad is a major factor to his personality, Misato has one too- she hated him until the day he saved her life in the Second Impact. Dying doing such a thing is what spurs her on to fight the angels in adulthood. It's also implied that her problems with her lover Kaji are at least partially caused by her daddy issues.
      • ANOTHER character who suffers from this is Asuka. Her dad 'disappeared' from her life (by her choice, really) after her mother got her mind sandblasted into insanity by Unit 02. Oh, and fitting the theme of Evangelion, her dad 'disappeared' to have an affair with the head nurse in charge of Asuka's mother. And Asuka knew about it, and they knew she knew. Didn't stop them, though. After that, Asuka never acknowledges anyone as her true parents.
  • Inuyasha, Kagome's lack of father has sprouted some Epileptic Trees (He's really a demon, he's really Sesshomaru, he's really InuYasha, etc.) The truth? The Novel Shutetsu Inuyasha reveals that Papa Higurashi is actually dead as a doornail, and that happened in a car crash when Kagome was a little girl. This is the reason why she and her family live in the Shinto shrine, too.
  • Yusuke and Kuwabara in Yu Yu Hakusho, though they both come back briefly in the finale.
  • Science Ninja Team Gatchaman: Ken Washio's Dad was another case of Disappeared Dad who was actually right there all along as the leader of Red Impulse. And then he makes an Heroic Sacrifice and Ken is left dad-less again..
  • Ash's father in Pokémon is only mentioned in the first episode, only mentioning that he had gone on a Pokémon journey like his son at some point. It also has sprouted some Epileptic Trees (He's really the Team Rocket's boss, He's the first one to actually train a Pokémon, etc.)
    • This affects Dawn as well in the recent Diamond and Pearl season. It's even more troublesome as it seems that Dawn's father never existed at all, considering the information we are shown of her mother always traveling in contests. Then again she's some what of a girl version of pre-Johto Ash with elements of Broken Bird and Stepford Smiler added.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!, Word of God is that Yugi's dad is always traveling on business, but this is never referenced in the manga or anime.
    • Ryou Bakura's is mentioned in-story to be traveling all over the place and had given Bakura the Millennium Ring as a souvenir from Egypt but he never makes a proper appearance, and we never see Yugi's, Tea/Anzu's, Tristan/Honda's, Duke/Otori's, or any other father aside from Joey/Jonouchi and Serenity/Shizuka's drunk of a father, the dead biological parents of Seto and Mokuba, and Seto and Mokuba's adopted father Gozoboro Kaiba (manga says Seto killed Gozoboro, anime filler arc claims he disappeared into and orchestrated a virtual reality so he could take his revenge upon Seto later. And that he had a biological son who for some reason looks like a green-haired Seto.). Grandpa Moto is Yugi's grandfather and pretty much raises most of the kids when they have any parental supervision at all. Seto ends up becoming Mokuba's substitute father.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. The only characters who still have dads are Nanoha and the Nakajima sisters.
    • The closest thing to a parent figure in the Yagami household would be Hayate. There's Hayate's mysterious "uncle" who supported her financially when she was young, but he doesn't seem to have much of a role beyond that.
    • We only find out what happened to Chrono's dad Clyde when the artifact that killed him becomes a plot point. His widow Lindy also adopts Fate, Erio and Caro, extending the Disappeared Dad trope to them.
    • Speaking of Fate, where's Precia's husband anyway? We don't even see a father in the flashbacks to before she lost her mind.
    • Vivio's situation would get conservatives' knickers in a twist since she Has Two Mommies. In this case, it's less of a 'Disappeared Dad', and more of a 'Dad? What Dad?'. Yuuno/Nanoha shippers, however, find evidence that he acts as a third parent; Fate/Nanoha shippers are just glad for the two.
      • Vivio suggests in the "Second Mother's Day" one shot that Fate is like her father, and gives her a gift for Father's Day.
    • Lutecia's plot revolves around her trying to make her comatose mom Megane wake up again. As for her dad... well, we don't even know what he looks like or if he even exists since he's never mentioned. She does temporarily get a father figure in Zest though.
    • If all THAT isn't enough, in Triangle Heart 3 ~sweet songs forever~, we have Fiasse (dad murdered by terrorists), Shinobu (pretty much abandoned with her maid), Miyuki (dad murdered by terrorists, adopted by relatives, new dad also murdered by terrorists)... yup, that means Nanoha's dad Shirou, one of the few in Nanoha, is dead here too. And he actually died when Nanoha was still in Momoko's womb, to twist the knife even further.
  • In Cardcaptor Sakura, Tomoyo's father doesn't seem to exist, and Sakura muses to herself that it seems to be a "complicated matter". Also, Syaoran's father passed away when he was very young.
    • With Tomoyo, it's at least hinted at the manga that Tomoyo's mother Sonomi may be a lesbian like her daughter... and likewise with a crush on a cousin (Sakura's mother). If that's the case, it's not surprising that the marriage would involve separate households. There are quite a few theories on how Tomoyo was born, however.
  • Many jokes have been made about the non-existent father of Kanon's Nayuki. Could he have been the secret ingredient of Akiko's jam? Also, Mai has a plot-important mother, but her father isn't seen anywhere.
  • The weirdest example I can think of is in Loveless. Ritsuka's dad is still in the vicinity, but you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise. We seldom see him, and after Seimei's departure he doesn't do much to protect his son from his mentally unhinged mother Misaki. This is dismissed by Ritsuka as "he's working all the time," but he basically leaves his child in mortal danger. Mind you, very few people in the Loveless universe seem to give a damn about child abuse.
  • All There in the Manual with Magic Knight Rayearth. Hikaru's home life is made up of herself, her mother, her three older brothers, and the dog. (With a very anime reason for why he's not there. She beat him in kendo. When she was younger.)
    • Same thing, except with Judo, was the reason for the titular character's dad leaving in Yawara
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Hohenheim left the family when Ed and Al were very young. He did have huge reasons, namely preventing his evil blood-related creation from absorbing the entire country into intself, becoming god, and conquering the world, but Ed is (understandably) still bitter about it.
  • Guyver has one of the most brutal subversions ever. Sho's father was turned into a Guyver-killing Zoanoid who damaged Guyver 1's brain. The Guyver, on autopilot, killed Mr. Fukamachi, but Sho didn't remember it. He eventually found out and developed a psychosomatic block against activating the Guyver, until Aptom threatened Mizuki and forced him to change. What's even more painful is that while this all happened in the manga (and the most recent anime repeats it all, sometimes panel for panel), the anime specifically spent much more time on strengthening Sho's relationship to his father.
  • In Captain Tsubasa, Tsubasa's father works abroad (though he makes efforts to keep contact through letters and visits) so Tsubasa is raised mostly by his mother and later by both her and Roberto Hongo, Dad's best friend. Additionally, Kojiro Hyuuga lost his father at an early age (in an accident, the manga says; of illness, the old anime says, though to be fair the issue came up years later) and runs part-time works to help the mother and siblings he adores.
  • Bu-ling's father in Tokyo Mew Mew is off training in the mountains, leaving her to raise her five younger siblings alone—kind of... cruel, considering she is eight years old and her mother is dead. Also, in a flashback, Kisshu's family is seen—him and probably a mother and a sister, but no dad.
  • In Sailor Moon, Ami's parents are divorced and she lives with her mother Saeko; her father is a painter, and apparently spends time traveling through the world. In the anime it borders on Parental Abandonment: in one episode, Ami is going to go to school overseas and the Senshi meet her at the airport, and she eventually decides to stay. Would she really not be seen off by her mother?
  • In the live-action version, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Usagi still has both parents, but her father is a reporter who is only ever seen on the family TV set, effectively giving her a one-parent family.
  • Negi Springfield's ultimate goal in Mahou Sensei Negima is to follow in the footsteps of his legendary father Nagi, known as the Thousand Master. Nagi disappeared ten years prior to the series start and was assumed dead, but various characters and events have stated that he is very much alive, although his whereabouts are still unknown.
    • Negi also has a Missing Mom, but for some reason he didn't seem even remotely interested finding her. Until recently.
  • Subverted humorously in Yotsuba&!. When Asagi says "Dad isn't here any more", melodrama included, in the second volume of the manga, the reader's left to assume he's gone for good, but it turns out he's just at work, and Asagi is being facetious.
  • Shobu's father from Duel Masters seems to have disappeared into thin air before the series started, which is given a Lampshade Hanging or two in the dub.
  • In Hunter X Hunter Gon's primary goal in becoming a hunter is finding his vagabond father Ging.
  • In Digimon Savers, Masaru's father Suguru is notably absent. It turns out that he was left behind on the first expedition to the Digital World and, after being imprisoned and supposedly executed by Yggdrasil, ends up sharing a body with Banchouleomon
    • The kids' relationships with their families tend to be important in Digimon. Sora's dad Haruhiko is never referenced in the first season, and her ultra-traditional mother Toshiko is emotionally distant (although she gets an awesome moment of Mama Bear when pushed). A lot of Sora's character development plays into mending their relationship, but Dad isn't mentioned until halfway through the second season: he's a famous researcher who spends a lot of time away from home. (Ironically, according to the drama track A Letter To My Father, in his wife's hometown.)
    • Jou's dad is The Ghost until the CD drama Michi e no Armor Shinka. He's emotionally distant, wants his three sons to all be doctors like him, and this causes some friction. The anime gave very little resolution to this, having Jou's decision to be a doctor seem rather sudden, but Armor Shinka and another drama track, Telephone, show that Jou decided to become a doctor because the Digital World didn't have any of its own and that his father did eventually rethink his positions and told Jou that it was okay if he made his own choices. So basically, Jou did become a doctor, but it was the way he wanted and not because of Dad forcing him anymore.
    • Iori's father, Hiroki, was a police officer who was killed protecting a political official when Iori was very young. Wanting to live up to and missing his father is implied to be the reason Iori is so serious and level-headed. Hiroki turns out to be very important to the series' back story, as it was his death that spiraled The Man Behind the Man, Hiroki's Forgotten Childhood Friend Yukio Oikawa, into the utter depression that made him easy prey for Vamdemon.
    • Juri's father isn't a bad person per se, but is very emotionally distant for reasons described under Missing Mom, and Ruki's father is nonexistent. Her mother, Rumiko, is a supermodel who had her at a very young age and they both use the father's surname, but whether he's missing because of divorce or death is contested. In the English dub, at least, Rika compares her situation to Jeri's, saying that she doesn't see her father very often, but at least she can and implies that's mostly her own choice, but the movie Runaway Digimon Express shows her to remember him fondly and might imply he's dead. Of course, that movie is also Canon Discontinuity.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, the basis for Kamina wanting to leave his hometown so badly is because his disappeared dad left for the surface years ago. His father is dead, his skeleton is found by the group in the second episode (which causes Kamina a brief Heroic BSOD), and latter Kamina dies too.
  • While we know what happens to his mother, Black Jack's father is initially unaccounted for...Until the man has the balls to call up his son to work some plastic surgery magic on his new wife, Renka—the woman he ditched Black Jack and his mother for. While they were both hospitalized, no less. Black Jack gets back at both of them by agreeing to perform the surgery... and making Renka look exactly like his mother - the woman Hazama Sr. ran away from.
  • You could argue this for most of the dads in the Dragonball Z canon. Goku's father Bardock and adoptive grandfather Gohan are both dead before the series begins and seems to be this a fair amount himself what with spending on year dead, a year training in space, dead for seven more years, and abandoning his family ten years after that to train the reincarnation of the last Big Bad. Vegeta's father, King Vegeta, was also killed off when he was a child; in the alternate timeline has himself been killed so that version of his son grew up without a father. In the main timeline, he's shown to be present but extremely distant on both an emotional and psychological level with his son, at least until his Final First Hug. His relationship with his daughter Bra is more difficult to evaluate due to matters of Fanon and Fanon Discontinuity.
    • Dragon Ball Abridged plays up Gohan's developing anger issues with his increasingly absent and ineffective father.
  • One Piece: Luffy didn't even know he had a father, Dragon the Revolutionary, until informed by his grandfather. In typical Shounen fashion, he takes this in stride while his older brother Ace is revealed to be much more bitter about his own father's abandonment and says his only father is his captain, Whitebeard. And with good reason... his Disappeared Dad is none other than Gold Roger.
  • Most of the characters in AIR either have some sort of issue with their mother, is a mother or is playing the part of one, but only one father is shown. Subverted later on, when Misuzu's father returns for her... way too late.
  • Kira Yamato had two parents in Gundam Seed. Yet at the beginning of Gundam Seed Destiny, he's shown living with his mom Caridad ( actually his aunt). Dad's disappearance is never explained, nor is he even mentioned. His (and Cagalli's) actual father is Mad Scientist Ulen Hibiki, who is dead by the moment the series starts.
    • Cagalli's adoptive father is the King of Orb, Uzumi, and they're somewhat distanced in the beginning. He later pulls an Heroic Sacrifice to save Orb, playing the trope straight.
    • Flay's father George was a higher-up in the colonies, and Flay mentions that she cares very much for him but he's always working and away from her. He was then killed off in front of her, and she was so fucked up by the loss that she went from a mere Rich Bitch to a Yandere while seeking for revenge.
    • The father of Kira's girlfriend Lacus Clyne, Siegel, is the chairman of ZAFT. He's later killed by Patrick Zala's group.
  • Used straight and subverted in Soul Eater: Mad Scientist Medusa is Chrona's mother but no father is mentioned. Maka's dad is supposed to be the Disappeared Dad, having been kicked out by Maka's mom for his constant womanizing, but we've yet to see Maka's mom.
    • One way of looking at Maka's situation is that her mother disappeared because Spirit - being the Death Scythe and required to stay with Shinigami in Death City - could not. The disappearance got reversed out of necessity; the mum wanted the father out of the way, so disappeared herself when that couldn't happen. There's also the point that Maka has no contact with the mother she looks up to, and shuns any well-meant attempt her father makes at reconciliation.
  • Iemetsu Sawada of Katekyo Hitman Reborn pretty much fits this trope; he had been away from home for over two years, according to Tsuna, who once expressed the thought that he was actually dead.
  • Several School Rumble characters (The Tsukamoto sisters, Masatsugu & Haruna Tougo, Eri Sawachika, Mai Otsuka) have absentee fathers.
  • Ryuuji and Taiga in Toradora!. Ryuuji's dad is dead ( Although it is later revealed he just abandoned Ryuuji and his mother before Yasuko gave birth.) He was a yakuza, and is where Ryuuji gets his dangerous looks from. Taiga is estranged from her father, since he's treated her like crap her whole life: Mr. Aisaka pretty much just sends her money and shows up once in a while to screw with her feelings, which is one of the sources of her temper. At the end, though Taiga leaves to again live with her mother and step-father, feeling she has to fix her own broken family before she deserves to start one with Ryuuji.
  • Miyuki from Lucky Star is shown to only live with her mother. Though on the Valentines Day episode (or clip..whatever..) she said she would be giving chocolate to her father. So he's either out traveling or divorced. (Though, Miyuki's mother Yukari never talks about him either)
  • Maria from Umineko no Naku Koro ni has to have a father, but we're never shown him - Rosa claims that he's on a "business trip." Later on, she makes comments about Maria that seem to imply that she was born out of wedlock, but nothing's been outright stated yet.
    • To a degree, all the dads become this when they get killed off in different continuities.
  • Initially played for laughs with Teen Genius Susumu's father on Wandaba Style. The girls went back in time and thought that he died in the ill-fated mission to the moon, but it turns out he's alive and well...in Canada. Later in the series, though, he decides to check in on his son, but does so without letting his son know he's back in Japan, mentally asking Ichirin to watch over his boy.
  • The apparent death of Nagisa's father in Satou Kashi no Dangan wa Uchinukenai has led to her obsession with joining the military, her brother's withdrawal from the world, and her mother's struggles to keep the family from becoming destitute.
  • Serpico in Berserk spent his life hearing from his mother that his father was a nobleman who'd seduced her when she worked as his maid. After a while, he stopped believing it. Then he became Farnese's servant, and one day her father asked about his mother. When Serpico described her, the man murmured something along the lines of "Oh, her"... and Serpico immediately caught on. Both agreed it was best for Farnese not to know about her older brother...
    • Guts himself counts, since we know what happened to all of his parental figures except for his biological father. This just brings up a slew of fan speculation of just who - or what - Guts' real dad is, especially since he has many physical attributes that suggest to some fans that he might not be entirely human. Other than that, this trope is played straight with Guts' adoptive father Gambino, since he talks more about the loss of Gambino than of the loss of his adoptive mother.
  • Keima Katsuragi's father, in The World God Only Knows, is implied to spend his time abroad collecting data. His absence helps newbie demon Elsee pass herself off as his illegitimate daughter. That said, he at least remembers his wife's birthday.
  • Hanaukyo Maid Tai. Taro's father is not mentioned once during the entire series.
    • Actually, it was mentioned at the beginning that Taro's father was a painter with whom Taro's mother eloped.
  • The death of Ryo's father in Princess Nine plays a huge role in the series.
  • Renton suffers from this in Eureka Seven, and is eager to find out what really happened to his dad (ep. 38).
  • Natsumi and Fuyuki's father in Keroro Gunsou. It is never really explained what has happened to him, and he only appears in the anime in a brief cameo in the seventh season finale.
  • Hayato's father in Future GPX Cyber Formula, who is the creator of the supercomputer system Asurada. Hayato wanted his father to see him in his races... until it's been revealed by his mother that his father was Dead All Along.
  • Kotetsu Jeeg has Dr. Shiba being emotionally disappeared at first (he and The Hero Hiroshi are in really bad terms since Hiroshi can't forgive him for always being away from home), then physically disappearing when The Empire he's been researching about comes back to this world and says "He Knows Too Much". A badly wounded Shiba barely manages to reach his home and dies in Hiroshi's arms. In a subversion, his brains and mentality were uploaded in the series's main computer, thus he still can act as The Professor. (Though he does get called out more than once by his aidés, and once epically by his wife/widow/Hiroshi's mother. which he takes, penly admitting he's not the best dad..)
  • In Shugo Chara, Ikuto and Utau's father, a prominent violinst, disappeared after he was going to be forced to give up playing the violin and running the Easter company. He does return in Shugo Chara Encore though his children didn't see him.
  • Kaichou wa Maid-sama: The female protagonist's Freudian Excuse to hate men was her father abandoning her, her sister and her mother and leaving them in debt.
  • Ayumu and her sister from Life only seem to live with their mother.


Comic Books[edit | hide]


Films -- Animated[edit | hide]

  • As with Missing Mom, the Disney Animated Canon has more than a few examples:
    • Both Snow White's and Cinderella's fathers are dead. Luckily, they still have their stepmothers. Oh, wait...
    • Bambi's dad, The King of the Forest, barely interacts with him, only showing up at important moments when he really needs help. This is consistent with nature, as fawns typically are raised exclusively by their mothers.
      • However, the indication in the original film is that Bambi's dad dropped the disappearing act and took over the parenting duties after the death of Bambi's mom. This was confirmed years later by the Midquel
    • In Beauty and The Beast, Chip has a loving mother in Mrs. Potts. But Mr. Potts is never mentioned.
    • The Lion King: The death of Mufasa haunts Simba for much of the second third of the movie. He does return from the dead for some encouragement.
    • The Rescuers Down Under: Cody lost his father.
    • The Aristocats: The kittens' father is never mentioned, but it really doesn't matter once O'Malley shows up.
    • Aladdin and the King of Thieves: Al discovers that his father Cassim, who left his now dead mother to search for his fortune, is now... well, the title pretty much gives it away, doesn't it?
    • Atlantis: The Lost Empire: Milo not only had no parents, but he also lost his grandfather, who was like a father to him.
    • Treasure Planet: Mr. Hawkins runs out on Jim and his mother. This trope has a pretty heavy effect on Jim's character. In fact, the the only pre-credits song in the movie is about Parental Abandonment.
    • Princess and The Frog: While Tiana's dad is alive in the beginning, he dies during the Time Skip. It's implied he died in World War I.
    • Plio, Aladar's adopted mother from Dinosaur, for some reason actually does not have a husband despite already having a daughter named Suri.
    • Li Shang's father was actually killed in a battle against the Huns prior to Mulan and her teammates' arrival and later their fight with them. Mulan still has her dad, but he's very old; she joined the army as a Sweet Polly Oliver to 'avert the trope itself and save her father's life.
    • Played with in Tangled. Rapunzel grew up thinking Mother Gothel is her only parent. In reality both of her parents are alive, but she was kidnapped as an infant and raised by her kidnaper.
  • In Toy Story, Andy's father is noticeably absent, implying that Mrs. Davis is a widow or a divorcee. However, Shrug of God suggests that Woody belonged to Andy's dad.
  • The Iron Giant: Hogarth's father was a fighter pilot, and is assumed to have been killed during a mission.
  • The Land Before Time has several in the main cast: Littlefoot's father left (we find out in Longneck Migration that he's the leader of a herd; and makes a cameo in the cartoon series), and Petrie's father is never shown. Spike was abandoned before he even hatched, and Ducky's family adopts him. Ducky's father is seen but is deliberately kept silent and in the background because of what happened to Ducky's VA Judith Barsi.
  • Rango: Beans insists that this is what happened to her father, and that she's waiting until "the people of Andromeda Five return him safe and sound". He definitely did NOT fall drunk down a mineshaft.
  • Camille's father in Therese Raquin. There's pretty much no mention of him.
  • The twins' father in The Thirteenth Tale. Isabelle returns home without her husband and informs the servants that he died. Of course, he also might not be the twins' father.


Films -- Live-Action[edit | hide]

  • In The Little Shop of Horrors (the original 1960 dark comedy), Seymour lives with his hypochondriac mother, who explains to Audrey at dinner that Seymour's father ran out on her.
  • In Psycho, Norman's dead father plays a pivotal role in his absence. Mrs Bates' unhealthy behaviour begins after her husband's death. Norman might have had a shot at a normal childhood if he had lived. Sadly, though, this didn't happen

Norman: A son is a poor substitute for a lover

  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day, We know why the dad is absent: Kyle was John's father and didn't survive the first movie. We also know Sarah tried the substitute dad treatment. It never took. You'd think after, like, 6 or 7 times...
    • This troper was under the impression that she was only shacking up with them in order to learn the skills that helped her take those levels in badass.
  • In The Karate Kid (both the original and the 2009 remake), there is little or no mention of what happened to the title character's father.
  • Director Steven Spielberg seems to use this trope a lot, played straight, averted and subverted.
  • Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium has Eric, whose father's absence is never explained.
  • Son of the Mask, Tim is a Disappeared Dad in the fatherly duty sense of the trope. He's present and Going Through the Motions of being a father to his newborn baby, but he wasn't prepared for the kid, and finds the kid an obstacle to his career path. Since the kid's magical, he torments his father for his inattention, and finds another father figure in Loki, creator of The Mask, forcing Tim to fight for his child's affection, and learning An Aesop about being an attentive and responsible father. Just in time for baby number two to be on the way!...
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles: The children's father is audible over a phone conversation and seen on a photo. His absence is explained to Jared by his exasperated older sister. But the one time he does show up it's the ogre Mulgarath in disguise as him.
  • Independence Day: Jasmine's son Dylan's father is not Steve Hiller, but Jasmine hopes he wants the job. We're not informed specifically what the deal is with Dylan, but given Jazz is a stripper, the potential exists that he ran out on her.
  • The Shaggy Dog (2006) features Dave as the psychologically absent father.
  • The Boondock Saints had a father who was in prison for the last twenty-five to thirty years because he was a deadly mafia assassin known as Il Duce. He gets sprung from prison by Yakavetta to take on the job of killing Rocco, who Yakavetta believes is behind the killings that the two protagonists are doing, and he ends up fighting both of his sons and Rocco in an explosive shootout. It is only when Yakavetta guns down Rocco himself and the Duke walks in on the brothers delivering the family prayer to him that he realizes exactly who the two men are and finishes the prayer himself, thus revealing to them that he is their father.
  • Star Wars: Luke's father is mentioned in the first movie, and in the second one... Well, you know. (But hey, at least he had a good reason for disappearing!)
    • Anakin doesn't have a father, unless you believe the theory that Palpatine's former master Darth Plagueis created him by use of the Force.
      • Word of God confirms this to be the case; Anakin never did have a father.
      • So is he a clone of his mother? Otherwise, where did the other half of his genome come from?
  • If Star Wars isn't a straight example, George Lucas did a big one later in Indiana Jones (as noted in the page quote).
  • In The Princess Bride the story is that when Inigo was very young, his father, Domingo Montoya was commissioned by the six-fingered man Count Rugen to make a sword. For a very long time Domingo worked on the sword, and it was his magnum opus. The six-fingered man offered a tenth of the original asking price, so Domingo refused to sell the sword. The six-fingered man killed Domingo, and young Inigo immediately took up the sword and challenged the six-fingered man to a duel. He spared Inigo's life, but gave him a pair of Good scars on his cheeks. When we meet Inigo, he's been training for the last twenty years to best the six-fingered man, working with Vizzini to pay the bills. "There's not much money in revenge."
    • Also in Princess Bride, there is the framing device of the grandfather reading the story to his grandson. Grandpa says, "This is the book my father used to read to me when I was sick and I used to read it to your father. And today, I'm going to read it to you." It's not mentioned why dad isn't around to read the book to the son himself, but it's probably safe to assume that he's dead.
      • Or at work?
  • Okuribito (Departures): Daigo's father left so long ago he can't remember what he looks like. At the end of the film Daigo claims his father's body and lovingly prepares him for his coffin. Daigo finds something that shows that his father still loved him despite leaving and finally remembers his face.
  • In the rebooted Star Trek film, the point of divergence includes, among other things, the death of Lt. George Kirk, James T. Kirk's father. As a result, the fatherless James grows up to be rebellious, self-destructive, cocky, and an all-around Jerkass, rather than just being a bit impetuous and unconventional.
  • Kirk's son, David Marcus was like this until the events of Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan came about. David despises his dad for abandoning the family, but Kirk patches things up with him in the end. Then David gets killed in the next film. Oh well.
  • Sophie wanting to determine which of three men is her father drives the plot of the film and musical Mamma Mia!.
  • In Silent Hill, Alessa's father left her mother Dahlia.
  • In Finding Neverland, Mr. Llewelyn Davies died before the film began, leaving his four sons in the care of their mother. They haven't all recovered from the loss yet.
  • Charlie's father (implied to be deceased) in Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory. In fact all of the kids in this adaptation have either this or a Missing Mom.
    • Yes, Charlie's father is missing, but Gustav and Mike's Dad is shown towards the beginning, as is Veruca and (possibly, sorry can't remember this one) Violet's Mom. I think you're just confused because the ticket only allowed each kid to take one guardian with them.
    • The Adaptation Expansion of the 2005 film mentions Wonka's relationship with his Depraved Dentist father.
  • Charlie has one in The Mighty Ducks
  • Cobb from Inception is one himself, though not by choice.
  • The Manhattan Project: Prior to the film, Paul's dad left his family and is now in Saudi Arabia. Paul is understandably somewhat bitter: "I guess he didn't like being married anymore. Actually he's a brilliant architect; he's just kind of a shit in his personal life."
  • In Changing Lanes, one of Doyle's primary motivations in the film is to avoid becoming a Disappeared Dad to his kids by convincing his ex-wife not to move from New York to Portland. When Gavin's selfish actions jeopardize this, Doyle gets upset.
  • In The Return of Hanuman, both Minku and Maruti's fathers have disappeared. How Minku's father disappeared wasn't revealed, while Maruti's dad disappeared because he was kidnapped and thrown into a volcano. Turns out that They were alive after all after Maruti brings all of the villagers out of the volcano.
  • Kevin Flynn in Tron: Legacy, having been trapped in the digital world for twenty years.
  • In Don Juan Demarco, both the 'real' and 'imaginary' accounts of the title character's life agree that his father was killed well before he was old enough to cope with such a loss. His doctor gradually takes over that role in his life.
  • Half of all kids movies in the 80s and early 90s had dead fathers or mothers.
  • Angus: There's a brief reference to the title character's parents being divorced, his father is never seen, and he lives with his mother and grandfather; the latter sort of being his father figure. In the original script, his father was still present in his life, and was gay - due to the potential controversy, he was written out of the movie altogether, the divorce reference was added, and plot-relevant scenes that were supposed to have Angus and his father in them were re-shot with his grandfather there instead.
  • The Poker House: The family moves away from the abusive priest father and never hears from him again.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In The Halfblood Chronicles by Mercedes Lackey and Andre Norton:
    • The Elvenbane: The titular character's foster mother is a single parent.
    • Elvenblood: The sympathetic elf lord's father disappeared when he was a child.
  • The disappearance of Meg Murray's father years ago becomes a central part of the plot in Madeleine L'Engle's novel A Wrinkle in Time. Working as a physicist on a top-secret project for the government, he'd accidentally teleported himself to another planet, where he was held captive. Meg and companions end up rescuing him.
  • The absence of Daine's father in The Immortals led to Daine being branded as a Heroic Bastard and earned her much ridicule, but in the last book, she and the readers find out he was actually a god.
    • Alanna and Thom in Pierce's related The Song of the Lioness series have the psychologically absent version; their father has never gotten over the death of their mother and more or less ignores them. They manage to pull a Twin Switch for years despite being of different genders.
  • Terry Pratchett's Sourcery has it in a really twisted, really weird form.
  • Specific cases in Harry Potter, where if you're not missing one or both parents you will be soon enough. (Unless you're a Weasley. Lucky them.)
    • James Potter died when trying to make a Last Stand to Voldemort to save his wife Lily and baby Harry.
    • Frank Longbottom is alive, but can't really BE a father since he was driven insane by the Cruciatus Curse
    • Dean Thomas' father, as revealed by Word of God, is a wizard who left his Muggle wife and unborn child because he feared they would be targeted by the Death Eaters. He was later killed, and his family never learned the truth. This would have shown up in the text, but got dropped in exchange for Neville's story.
    • The first few books suggest Tom Riddle senior abandoned his wife and child because he didn't like magic. The sixth book revealed the much more sympathetic truth - he fled from his wife Merope after she took him off the love potion she'd been feeding him. She thought after all this time and with a baby on the way he'd feel the real thing. He didn't, and Merope later went the Death by Childbirth way. This led to Self-Made Orphan years later...
    • The Dumbledore family lost their father after he went to Azkaban prison after attacking some Muggle boys who attacked his daughter.
    • And of course BOTH of Teddy Lupin's parents are killed in the Battle of Hogwarts when he was only a few months old. He at least gets to be raised by his grandmother, and is practically a surrogate son to his godfather Harry.
    • Lucius Malfoy becomes this in the sixth book because he's sitting in Azkaban and it's the motivation for Draco to become a Death Eater, try to kill Dumbledore, and to get the Death Eaters into Hogwarts.
  • Doc Savage's father leaves him in the care of teachers while he travels around the world big game hunting and searching for lost treasure until Doc becomes a man. Then he dies of the plague.
  • Pretty much all of Jacqueline Wilson's teen books contain this. Parents are almost always divorced and the father has usually vanished into the ether (occasionally to be replaced with a Wicked Stepfather)
  • Ella Enchanted - being a literal Cinderella story, it places Ella's father as a frequently-traveling merchant. He also has little to no interest in what goes on around his house in his absence.
  • Any books based on the life of Julius Caesar will include this trope, as he had to leave his daughter Julia behind when he was off being a badass in Spain and Gaul. Actually subverted in Conn Iggulden's Emperor series where Julia goes through a phase of teenage anger and resentment towards him, but otherwise pretty much worships her father. This is attributed to her growing up hearing the stories about her father's accomplishments but never seeing him do things like hurt his slaves, get himself drunk or punishing his soldiers. She even goes so far as to helping her father in the civil war, despite the fact that it means betraying her own husband, who is Caesar's opponent.
  • Roger Zelazny liked this one. In the Book of Amber, the absence and possible death of Corwin's father, King Oberon, drives much of the action. Turns out he's not so disappeared after all, but concealing his identity. Mind you he really was captured and imprisoned in the Courts of Chaos, it was his escape and return he concealed.
  • John Cleaver's father in I Am Not a Serial Killer is absent from the book except when he sends John a letter and an iPod at Christmas.
  • The father of the titular character in Gregor the Overlander. They find him though.
  • The first two books of Artemis Fowl.
  • In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files novel Summer Knight, Harry is offered a chance at this: the Winter Lady offers him the information if he will only sleep with one of her court and ignore the ensuing pregnancy. He rejects it. Strongly.
    • In Blood Rites, Harry presupposes this after Emma's death, when he laments that her children are orphans. Jake reveals that, in fact, she had not wanted to settle down with him, but he will raise their children.
    • And then in Changes, Harry finds out that he is the Disappeared Dad to the daughter nobody told him about.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Gods Of Mars, John Carter meets a young man whose father died before he was born. Three guesses as to who his father was and whether that info was accurate.

"With drawn swords they made for me, but before I went down beneath them they had tasted of the steel of my father's sword, and I had given such an account of myself as I know would have pleased my sire had he lived to witness it."
"Your father is dead?" I asked.
"He died before the shell broke to let me step out into a world that has been very good to me. But for the sorrow that I had never the honour to know my father, I have been very happy. My only sorrow now is that my mother must mourn me as she has for ten long years mourned my father."

  • Stephen King examples (his father left his family when King was two)
    • Eddie Dean in Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. He finds the Mid-World expression "forgotten the face of my father" ironic, because he wouldn't recognize his father if he met him. When he introduces himself as "Eddie Dean of New York, son of Wendell" in Calla, he thinks that leastwise, his mother always said that.
    • Ben Hanscom and Eddie Kapsbrak in IT.
    • Bobby Garfield in Hearts in Atlantis.
    • Carrie White in Carrie. Her father died in an accident before she was born.
    • Louis Creed in Pet Sematary. His father died when he was three.
    • Hal Shelburn in The Monkey (short story in the collection Skeleton Crew). His father was a seaman, like King's.
  • The Dark-Thirty, a collection of African-American ghost stories: A boy with psychic powers has an irresponsible, semi-Affably Evil disappeared dad (mom despises him but when he's around it's usually a fun time). Dad takes his son back to the city when he learns about the boy's powers and uses him to make money on horse races, but when the kid's power disappears and he's beaten by his debt collectors he promptly returns the boy to his mother, never to be seen again ("And good riddance", says his mom).
  • Matt's father died in an accident on the Aurora in Airborn, which is why Matt must work at 15 to support the mothers and sisters.
  • In Tranquilium, Gleb Marin's father was killed when he was 17 or so. It's played somewhat more straight with his own son Billy, who doesn't know Gleb is his father; the man he thinks is his father is missing as of early Part Three (when the son becomes a character in his own right) because he is a prisoner of war. He is mostly raised by his mother, who is Gleb's former lover and the wife of Billy's adapted father, and by Auntie Olive, who is Gleb's former wife. Things inevitably get rather awkward when Gleb has to rescue Billy from a conspiracy (the fact that Gleb was by this point a sovereign monarch didn't help)...
  • The Glass Menagerie: Mr. Wingfield.
  • In Percy Jackson and The Olympians, most of the demigods where the god is the father have never met their father and before finding out their heritage, usually are told that their father wasn't in the picture. Inverted for the godly mother, of course. In Percy's case, his mother Sally told him that his father wasn't dead but had been lost in sea. Seeing how Posideon was his father ...
  • Sam of Villains by Necessity has never known his father. Then in the climactic final battle, he learns that his father is :his nemesis, Mizzamir. This revelation does not stop Sam from fulfilling the assassination contract on Mizzamir that he had accepted at the beginning of the book.
  • Frances Hodgson Burnett seemed to love this trope as this happens to pretty much all of her main characters. Sara Crewe at least used to have a loving father, but both of Mary's parents are emotionally and largely physically absent even before they die. And then we have Little Lord Fauntleroy Cedric, whose loving father died when he was a toddler, and the plot is kickstarted when he and his mom go to England to meet his grandfather...
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn's father dies in the war when he is two; he's raised by his mother and Elrond. There are more examples of disappeared dads, which tend to fall into Parental Abandonment and Parental Substitute as well (Frodo, Eowyn and Eomer, Elrond and Elros...)
    • The Children of Húrin, Túrin and Nienor, also lose their father at a young age, which is the beginning of all their trouble -he's captured by Morgoth and released only after they've both killed themselves.
  • L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter trilogy opens with Prospero Lost. His children still haven't found him at the end of the second book.
  • In The Mysterious Benedict Society, Kate's dad left her when she was two. It is revealed to be Milligan, who was brainswept on a mission.
  • Erika, Grünlich's daughter, suffers from this in Buddenbrooks.
  • In Warrior Cats, Tigerstar leaves his kits and their mother to join Shadowclan. There is a lot of biterness involved as Tigerstar attempted to murder Bluestar, the leader of Thunderclan, and also murdered Redtail, the former deputy. Unsurprisingly, Thunderclan does not want his kits, Bramblekit and Tawnykit, to turn out like their father.
  • The absent father is a major plot point in You Don't Know Me. The entire premise revolves around the relationship between John and his stepfather (or the rough equivalent, anyway), so the missing father is really a necessity. The details are vague at best - though a fantasized version of the father is mentioned frequently, John has little to no recollection of who he really was, his mother rarely talks about him, and the actual disappearance was sudden and without explanation: one day there, the next day gone.
  • In Paladin of Souls, it is revealed that Roya Ias' "boon companion" Chancellor Arbol dy Lutiz had essentially abandoned his latest wife and young son to attend upon his liege at court. Young Ahrys did not even remember his father but yet strove to excel in all the arts of warfare and statesmanship in the hopes of being summoned to the capital until the day the elder Dy Lutiz died. As Ahrys' half-brother (the result of their mother's long-term affair with the Castle Warder) put it:

"Me, I had a father for all of my life, or at least all of his. Ahrys had... a dream."

  • Sunshine has Rae bemoaning her powerful magician father who is not a part of her life- because she does not want the power his blood brings to her.
  • In Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Oskar's grandfather abandoned his father before he was born. He tries to apologize and explain in letters entitled "Why I'm Not Where You Are," but all but one never get sent.
  • In Death: A number of characters throughout the series are much more likely to have a mother in the picture rather than a father. Does Nora Roberts have a problem with fathers?
  • Subverted in Time Scout. Margo grew up thinking her grandfather abandoned her mother and grandmother. Turns out she left him. And it still hurts.
  • Animorphs, another case of parental divorce, and the dad's first appearance in the series is purely to say he's moving far, far away.
    • And then we have Tobias, although Elfangor's disappearance was special circumstances.
  • In Les Misérables, Fantine's boyfriend Tholomyès abandoned her and their two-year-old daughter Cosette.
  • In L. M. Montgomery's Jane of Lantern Hill, Jane believes her mother a widow for many years before learning her parents were separated.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: King Robert, in direct contrast to how his dear friend Ned raised his bastard, entirely ignores the existence of fifteen of his illegitimate children and does his best to avoid Edric Storm, the sixteenth. Gendry, one of his eldest children, doesn't even know that Robert is his father.
  • Antonia's father dies before the events of the The Monk, leaving her to be raised in relative poverty and obscurity.
  • In Dragonlance, Kitiara Uth Matar's father, a Solamnic Knight, leaves the family when she was seven years old. She later sets out to find him, never managing to do so, but becoming a mercenary and adventurer on her journey.
  • In Michael Flynn's Up Jim River, the harper was raised by her mother alone, with only some information about her father. When her mother disappears, her quest for her also has the unspoken desire to find her father.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • iCarly: Carly/Spencer's father is in the military. Freddie's father is never mentioned and his mother seems to have raised him on her own.
    • Sam's father's abandonment is finally addressed in "iParty With Victorious":

Sam: Yeah, and my dad told my mom he was coming back.

  • Battlestar Galactica Reimagined: Does Kara "Starbuck" Thrace even have a dad? All we know is that he was a piano player. There's no mention of him when she talks about her abusive mother.
    • Late in the series, we learn what happened to him. When Kara was young, her mother forced him to choose between his family or his music. He chose music ( some of which was written two thousand years ago by Sam Anders (or possibly Bob Dylan) on Earth), leaving Kara with a woman who thought Drill Sergeant Nasty was a valid parenting method.
    • Not to mention the original (male) Starbuck of the original series. He grew up without a father, then one day a con artist shows up and hints at possibly being his father as part of a scam. Surprise-surprise, the con artist was really his father (which shocked the heck out of him). In the end, Starbuck's dad pretends that he is NOT Starbuck's father so he won't drag his son down. (That and the part was played by expensive and elderly actor Fred Astaire)
    • Bill Adama is stated to have been this to Lee and Zak during their childhood, what with hardly ever being around.
  • The Brady Bunch: A Disappeared Dad was in its Backstory before the show's timeline begins officially and Carol married Mike.
    • Creator Sherwood Schwartz's original concept for the show had been for Carol to be a divorcee, but the network deemed this too controversial for the era and demanded a script change. One description of the pilot (a result of this change) has Carol being a widow (the reason why Carol's first husband apparently has no contact with his daughters), although her actual background is never explicitly stated in any of the scripts.
    • In the final episode of the series, "The Hair-Brained Scheme," Robert Reed's bitter objections to the script (Greg's hair turning orange as the result of using a non-FDA approved hair tonic) resulted in what turned out to be a one-episode "Disappeared Dad" ... just in time for Greg's high school graduation. Had the series been renewed for a sixth season, Schwartz contends that Reed would have been fired, with possible scenarios being that Mike Brady would have either been killed off (off-screen) or sent on a season-long out-of-town architectural project. (The other possibility was hiring a new actor to play Mike.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy's dad pretty much disappears after the second season premiere, even when Buffy's kicked out of her mother's house she doesn't go to him and she tells Angel that he never even came to Joyce's funeral. Further, attempts to replace him were disastrous as well.
    • We never see Willow's father (and her mother is only in one episode, at that). Xander's parents are occasionally mentioned and do make one appearance, although it's pretty evident that Xander wishes they had disappeared.
  • Angel: Angel himself was absent from his son's life for most of it due a Plot-Relevant Age-Up in another dimension, and wavered a bit over his involvement when he was there. Like when he threw him onto the street and then went to Vegas.
  • Chuck: After years of absent and/or neglectful non-parenting, Papa Bartowski finally left his children at some point before the series started.
    • He did have a good reason for it, as he didn't want his kids to be caught in the crosshairs of enemy spies who wanted his secrets[1]
  • Good Times: The Evans' family patriarch, James, is killed in a car accident to start the 1976-1977 season, the character being dropped after John Amos was fired (after disputes with the production staff). The explanation: He had left to close a partnership deal with an old friend in Mississippi, the resulting career opportunity making it possible to move his family out of the Chicago slums, and on the way back was involved in a car accident where he was fatally injured.
  • Heroes
    • The Big Bad Sylar's dad walked out on him and his mother when he was very small. This may be what made his mother quite so obsessed, and contributed to his Freudian Excuse and Momma's Boy issues.
      • The mother he killed wasn't even his real mother, who happens to NOT be Angela Petrelli...who also abandoned him.
      • It also turns out that he was abandoned by two fathers. His birth father (a taxidermist) sold him to his uncle (the watchmaker), who only wanted him so that he could abandon his annoying wife with a clear conscience. Birth daddy also killed birth mommy while young Gabriel watched.
    • Micah's dad was a now-you-see-him-now-you-don't sort of disappeared dad. He was in jail, then came back, then died, then faux-returned in flashbacks before being gone altogether.
    • Claire is a weird twisty aversion. She was a complete Parental Abandonment case with both Missing Mom and Disappeared Dad, but she has since been adopted by loving parents. And she knows now who her Missing Mom and Disappeared Dad are.
    • Hiro is a particularly tragic example. He began with Missing Mom Ishi, but his father Kaito was murdered by a vengeful Adam Monroe just as Hiro and Kaito had finally found common ground after a lifetime of Hiro never measuring up to his father's standards, and right after they'd finally begun bonding. This completes the loss of his parents and makes Hiro an adult onset Parental Abandonment case.
      • Hiro's example is more complicated than that. Throughout season 1, Hiro was made to work at the lowest levels of his company. When his father brought him and his sister in to name the proper heir to the company after retirement, he names Hiro initially, but when his sister protests, arguing that she already ran three divisions of the company, Hiro relinquishes. His father was feigning much of the disappointment he displayed and it was revealed near the season's end to be part of his plan. His father secretly knew about Hiro's powers and had greater expectations in mind, this was brought to light in the episode where Hiro meets his father dressed in traditional Samurai/Shogun robes and they spar with katanas.
    • Matt Parkman is a triple-sided example.
      • His own father disappeared when he was 13 only to show up later as a villain, whom Matt defeats.
      • Matt is technically the Disappeared Dad of his own child when his wife left him. It's believed that said kid wasn't actually his, as his wife Janice has been cheating on him... but "Fugitives" confirmed Matt as the baby's father, making him a genuine Disappeared Dad; now that he know's the truth, it appears he'll stop being one as he protects his son from The Government.
      • And Matt is not the Disappeared Dad, having adopted Molly Walker, who is an orphan thanks to Sylar killing and freezing her parents early in Season 1.
    • Mohinder Suresh's father Chandra abandoned his family after the death of Mohinder's sister Shanti to pursue his research into weird genetic superpowers. (Not quite directly afterwards, as Mohinder was the second child and was born some months after Shanti died.) Then only days prior to the start of the pilot episode, Chandra Suresh is murdered by Sylar.
    • Arthur Petrelli, the father of Peter and Nathan, committed suicide six months before the start of the series. As it turns out, not so much. He's the Big Bad of Season 3.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles has the same Disappeared Dad as The Movie from which it spawned.
  • I'm not sure it qualifies, but the cast of Lost seems to have an inordinate amount of father issues—usually resulting in an absence from the character's life at one point in time. The only problem is that they don't stay absent and quite often appear in flashbacks.
    • Jack—turns his alcoholic dad in for malpractice, dad vanishes to Australia. He then dies, and Jack was supposed to bring his lifeless body back... in the Oceanic Flight.
    • Kate—she murders her stepfather and runs to her dad for help; her dad refuses and we have yet to see him again.
      • Actually the man she thought was her mother's boyfriend was actually her biological father. The guy she thought was her biological father wasn't.
    • Locke—He doesn't know his biological father until he appears and steals a kidney from Locke (don't ask), when confronted about this, pushes Locke out the window.
    • Sawyer—His father kills his mother and then commits suicide.
    • Hurley—His dad is completely absent from his life until he wins the lottery (and then only appears for the money). To be fair, both Hurley and his mother forgive his father and his father formed a strong bond after Hurley came back from the island.
    • Claire—Her father was absent. And considering he was Jack's dad as well...
    • Walt—His mom raised him away from his biological father, Michael. His step-father then gave Walt's custody to Michael. And let's not mention all things Michael did for his son after the crash...
    • Miles—Never knew his father and was told by his mother that his father hated him. Miles eventually discovers that Pierre Chang is his father and that his father always loved him. Miles eventually convinces Pierre to abandon his mother and his infant self in order to save them...time travel is weird like that.
    • Daniel—He never had any idea who his father was and was raised entirely by his mother. His dad turns out to be Charles Widmore, so this may have been for the best...kinda.
    • Jin—Seeks to be a success and is ashamed of his father, a poor, uneducated fisherman.
      • Who might not be his biological father, though Jin doesn't know it. Jin's mother was a prostitute who abandoned him shortly after his birth. His father raised him anyway, telling him that his mother had died and leaving out the part where she was a prostitute in order to prevent him from feeling further shame about his parentage.
    • Sun—Wants to run away from her crime boss father. She later out-gambits him and takes control of the business.
  • Monk's father was, until recently, a Disappeared Dad. He is still not the greatest at fatherhood, but he's trying.
  • Pushing Daisies has a recursive one that starts out messed up, and just keeps getting worse:
    • Ned, not knowing how his power worked, revived his mother from her death, causing the permanent death of Chuck's father.
      • Only to dig him and bring him back to life. Soon after, the father departed again, this time stealing Ned's car.
    • Still not knowing how the power worked, Ned didn't stop his mother from kissing him goodnight, causing her second and permanent death.
    • Ned's father abandons Ned in boarding school, and ran off to start an entirely new life (complete with new wife and new sons), ignoring his eldest son entirely from that point on. And later he abandons those sons as well. At a magic show.
      • In one of the last episodes of the show, Ned's father has reappeared, and is evidently supplying Ned with covert assistance.
    • Emerson Cod is an involuntary Disappeared Dad; he and his daughter became separated while she was still an infant. He is writing a book hoping to get it published and lead her to him.
  • Supernatural: Sam and Dean's father John raised them, but for most of Season 1 he's missing—in this case, the absence is of the "off fighting evil" variety. But still, he doesn't come when Dean is dying or even when Dean leaves him a tearful "Please help me" message when they're having problems with their old house. He does apologize for most of it in the last few episodes of season 1, and admits that his sons are right to resent him.
    • John was pretty much a Disappeared Dad for most of Sam and Dean's childhood. He would go off hunting monsters leaving them alone for days and later months at a time. He finally does something decent for Dean in a Redemption Equals Death type moment; later, Dean finally faces up to how much of his psychological problems is John's fault in a Journey to the Center of the Mind.
    • God would probably count as this too, actually.
  • Power Rangers Wild Force - Viktor Adler "finished off" both of Cole's parents shortly after finding the remains of the original Master Org.
  • Power Rangers Dino Thunder - Both of Trent's parents died before the series began, and, contrary to what you might expect, that's it.
  • Power Rangers Mystic Force starts off with Nick as a total Parental Abandonment case (sort of, he does have a foster family somewhere), which morphs [ahem] into a subverted Missing Mom case, and then, a Disappeared Dad case before the family is happily reunited, subverting all three tropes. The series ends with the three of them riding off on motorbikes so Nick can introduce them to his foster parents.
  • In VR Troopers Tyler Steele, Ryan's dad,was turned into Dark Heart by Grimlord.
    • In Choujinki Metalder, Top Gunder (Dark Heart's counterpart) was nobody's father (since he and Metalder were robots). However, in Jikuu Senshi Spielban (the other Metal Heroes show that was adapted into VR Troopers), Dr. Bio (General Icebot's counterpart) was Spielban's missing father, Dr. Ben.
  • Reba kicks off with Dad running off with his secretary; the two later show up and become regulars (much to Reba's annoyance).
  • The Middleman begins with Wendy playing with a Zippo that's the last memento from the dad who vanished when she was 14. It turns out to be something of a sticking point with Wendy.
  • Sam Tyler in Life On Mars winds up being responsible for his dad's Disappearance; turns out, the guy was a murderous criminal, and Sam decided that, given the choice between two terrible alternatives, he didn't want his mother and his younger self to go through the public shame of an arrest.
    • Considering that it all took place in a reality that was basically purgatory for policemen, chances are that his dad was just your run-in-the-mill deadbeat dad. Unless you subscribe to the theory that he was the one that killed Annie...
  • Criminal Minds loves playing with this trope. Morgan and Elle's fathers are both dead; Reid's ran out on him and his mentally-ill mother; Garcia apparently got her last name after being adopted by her stepdad; Prentiss's has gone significantly unmentioned in comparison to her overbearing mother; meanwhile, Gideon's implied to be a Disappeared Dad to his son and becomes Disappeared Dad to the team when he leaves the series (because face it, Gideon is Dad, Hotch is Mom), and Hotch is trying desperately not to become one. (JJ apparently sprung full-grown from the forehead of Zeus.)
    • Reid gets a Reappeared Dad when a case triggers disturbing memories. Reid starts to suspect his dad was a pedophile. When they're reunited (along with Reid's mom) it turns out he left because he thought his wife killed a pedophile when in fact she had unwittingly identified him to the leader of a vigilante mob (her paranoid schizophrenia getting worse didn't help either). It was really just a case of poor communication kills.
  • The titular character of Merlin would seem to have been raised by his mother. There's yet to be a single mention of his father, which, due to the legends about him has led to endless speculation amongst the fans.
  • The Secret Life of the American Teenager has a few, which isn't surprising for a teen drama.
    • Grace's dad dies in a plane crash during the series. She later gets a stepdad, but she's rather cold towards him due to the fact that her mom married him fairly soon after her dad's death.
    • Adrian doesn't meet her dad until she's 16. He blows her off at first since he "has another family now." He later abruptly dumps them, gets involved in Adrian's life, and marries Adrian's mom.
    • Jack's dad is dead before the series starts, but he has a good relationship with his stepfather.
  • On Glee, Finn has a dead father while Puck's is a deadbeat. This gives them both a nice Freudian Excuse to try to be there for Quinn when she reveals she's pregnant.
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Barney's father abandoned him when he was very young, and his mother doesn't seem to know who his father is either. She tells Barney his dad is Bob Barker, former host of the Price is Right, which he deludes himself into believing is true. His friends go along with it in order to spare his feelings.
  • In "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" episode "Papa's Got A Brand New Excuse" Will Smith's dad played by Ben Vereen shows up after abandoning Will and his mother years ago. He gets Will's hopes up about spending time together but then splits again leading to one of Smith's big dramatic moments on the show.
  • Richard Castle doesn't know who his father is. In a curious aversion from numerous others in this trope, however, although the lack of a prominent male role model in his life has left him as something of an immature Man Child he appears to have otherwise adjusted quite well to this state of affairs, with a notable lack of Wangsting in the episode where this trope is a prominent focus.
  • In The X-Files, Mulder must leave behind Scully and their newborn son, William, to go into hiding.
  • While the dads of the Deadliest Catch crews usually return, they're gone for so long and in such dangerous conditions there (multiple) divorces are not uncommon and actually a deterrent for one young father who was thinking of joining the family business.
    • Jake Anderson's dad literally disappeared, although he wasn't a crew member.
  • On Misfits, we still don't know exactly what the hell happened to make Nathan so furious at his father, Mike, beyond the fact that he was apparently "never around". But my God, whatever took place gave Nathan some serious issues...
    • We know a bit more as of season 2 - apparently Mike cheated on Nathan's mother, walked out on her, and has another son he'd never bothered to mention. Oh, and he also left Nathan alone and unattended in Ikea for three hours on his eighth birthday, during which time Nathan ended up having lunch with a known pedophile.

Nathan: That sick pervert cared more about me than dad ever did...he would've taken me to the zoo.

  • Jeremy from Peep Show, who is in many ways an unmitigated Jerkass, broke down and wept at one point in series 6 on account of his father abandoning him at the age of ten. It was unexpectedly touching.
  • This happened a few times on Charmed.
    • Victor was forced away by Grams and Patty because he didn't want his girls to be raised as witches and to be put into danger. Apparently, Grams also used magic against him.
    • Sam, Paige's father, had to abandon Paige because of his fears of what the Elders would do to her because she's half whitelighter.
    • Chris from the future had suffered from this in his childhood. Leo, in his time, had Elder duties that kept him away from his family. He has issues with that.
  • On Mash, Radar mentions that his father had him at 63 and died when he was young.
  • An episode of According to Jim had Jim look after a karate classmate of his daughters (on whom both girls have a crush) whose father is hours late. When the boy's parents arrive at Jim's home to pick up their son, Jim makes the startling realization that the boy's Dad is his own, who left when Jim was 10, 35 years prior. No mention is made of Jim's daughters unknowingly crushing on their half-uncle, possibly to avoid the Squickiness of the concept.
  • Wings started with the Brothers Hackett reuniting thanks to the posthumous machinations of their prankster father. Ended in a similar fashion, as well.
  • Doctor Who - Rose's dad was hit by a car when she was still a baby. Befriending an alien with a time machine gives her a chance to meet him, but then she tries to stop the accident, and..
  • On Home Improvement, Tim's dad died when Tim was eleven years old. Judging by the way Tim talks about him and reacts to others mentioning him, the death was utterly devastating and traumatizing to him as a child, and still haunts him with unusual severity throughout the series.
  • In The Young Ones episode Boring this is an exchange between Vyvyan and his mum:

Vyvyan: 'ow's Dad?
Vyv's Mum: Oh honestly, Vyvyan, I wish you wouldn't ask me that. You know I have absolutely no idea who he is.

  • Step by Step: The reason why Carol Foster is single in the series' pilot. Her first (unnamed) husband, with whom they had three children (Dana, Karen and Mark) had died about two years before the series' start.
  • Family Matters: Why Rachel Crawford is a widow and baby Richie has no father. (Robert Crawford had died of an illness shortly after Richie was born, about a year before the series began.) Carl Winslow, Richie's uncle and Rachel's brother-in-law, becomes the father figure in his life.
  • Happy Days: As a child, Fonzie's father had abandoned him and his mother, something that Fonzie remains bitter and resentful about for years. All that the father had left his son was a locked box without a key; the box's contents are eventually revealed to be ... the key that would have opened the box! In a later episode, Fonzie receives a letter from his father (delivered to him by a sailor, who unknown to Fonzie is his father), which reveals that his father had joined the Navy and that he didn't have the courage to face his son and explain why he left. The explanation brings some closure to Fonzie's feelings about his father. (At a point late in the second season until the series' conclusion, Howard Cunningham is the de facto father figure in Fonzie's life.)
  • CSI's Morgan Brody-Ecklie left when she was 14.
  • Wataru of Kamen Rider Kiva has a missing father. Part of the show focuses on the events that led to his father's disappearance and any other event that resulted in what is happening presently.
  • The Partridge Family: Shirley Jones' character was a widowed mother of five. The group's manager Reuben Kincaid sometimes acted as a father figure.
  • While 90210 has its share of missing mothers and is a big practioneer of the Estranged Soap Family generally the show is very fond of this trope. Adrianna's father is simply absent and his whereabouts or wheter he is alive or not have never been so much as hinted at. Liam and Navid both have convicts for fathers: Liam's dad is on the run and has no contact with his son, while Navid's father was also on the run for quite a while before turning himself in. Annie Dixon's father is divorced from their mother and doesn't seem to be in their lives much. Naomi, Teddy, Austin and Ivy have Jerkass estranged fathers they want nothing to do with.


Music[edit | hide]

  • In Ayreon: The Human Equation the protagonist's father is a womanizing jerk who left his mother long ago. He appears in his comatose hallucination to mock him ("Day sixteen: Loser"), the grudge the protagonist held on him was essential in igniting his rage and letting him wake up four days later.
  • A Disappeared Dad is among the Wangst (Played for Laughs) of The Offspring's "She's Got Issues":

You told me a hundred times how your father left and he's gone
But I wish you wouldn't call me daddy
When we're gettin' it on

  • And let us not forget Johnny Cash's 'A Boy Named Sue' in which the abandoned son hunts down his father for giving him that name.
  • Cat's In The Cradle by Harry Chapin is this trope told from the dad's perspective. It's also a bit of a Tear Jerker.
    • Although this one is less about a truly disappeared dad, but rather about one who was emotionally distant.
  • Jason Meadows's 18 Video Tapes concerns a man who dies from an unspecified illness before his son is born. Before he dies, he makes a set of tapes-the titular 18 video tapes-to impart wisdom to his son from beyond the grave.
  • Pink Floyd's The Wall, the song Another Brick in The Wall part I starts with the lyrics "Daddy's flown across the ocean/leaving just a memory/a snapshot in the family album/daddy what else did you leave for me?" It's implied that he went to war and died overseas.
  • The Mexican group Mana, in the song "Relojito cucu" ("Cuckoo little clock") its about the last moments of a kid with its father and how the family grew-up without him after the father death. By the way, lead singer Fher lost his own father as a kid, maybe the song its about his own story...
  • Marie Claire D'Ubaldo's song "My father's eyes" ("Los ojos de mi padre", in Spanish) is from the POV of a girl who misses her father and angsts quite a bit about it.
  • Part of the persona of Unknown Hinson is that he is named after his disappeared father: "Says right there on my birth certificate. Momma: Mrs. Hinson, Daddy, Unknown."
  • Country music singer Red Sovine, whose specialty was recitations about truck drivers, recorded at least two songs about disappeared dads:
    • "Giddyup Go," which actually is told through the eyes of a "disappeared dad." A No. 1 country hit in 1966, the main protagonist is a truck driver whose wife and son had left him about 20 years earlier (and provided no contact information); to the son, who was very young when his parents' marriage ended, he was a "disappeared dad" ... until the day they had a chance meeting at a truckstop, the happy reunion told in the song's climax.
    • "Teddy Bear," about a young parapeligic boy who lost his father in a road accident a few months earlier. The boy, who uses his citizens-band radio to keep in contact with his father's former truck driving friends, says his dream of spending the summer on the road with his folks also died in the accident ... until the teary-eyed truckers decide to make his dream come true. The resulting song, recorded and released at the height of the CB-radio craze, was a No. 1 country smash (and minor pop hit) in the summer of 1976.
  • Lupe Fiasco's He Say, She Say.
  • AJ McLean's "Sincerely Yours," a case of Calling the Old Man Out.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • In Dilbert, the title character's father, who never appears in the comic, has been living in an all-you-can-eat restaurant in the mall since Christmas 1992; he won't leave until he's literally had all he can eat. When Dilbert's girlfriend Liz expresses astonishment that neither he nor his mother have so much as visited him in all this time, Dilbert replies, "We're waiting for a sale." The joke is recycled for the animated series, where the father, still living in the restaurant (since 1979 in this version), does appear, but his face isn't shown.
    • No, they were originally waiting for a sale to go to the mall to look for him. When his mom finally found him, Dilbert decided not to go to the restaurant to visit until they were serving a special he liked.


Theater[edit | hide]

  • In William Inge's Picnic (as well as in the 1955 film adaptation), the father of the Owens family has long since abandoned them.
  • In the musical version of Les Misérables Cosette's father apparently took off sometime before or shortly after her birth, causing her to be sent to live with the Thenardiers and her mother Fantine to be forced into prostitution. Though she does later gain a father figure in Valjean.
    • Cosette's father in the novel is Felix Tholomyes. His three friends are paired up with Fantine' three friends, and men abandon their women as a joke of sorts; Fantine either doesn't have a chance to tell him or finds out just afterwards that she's pregnant.
      • Actually, Cosette was two years old when Tholomyès abandoned them. It says in the novel that only ten months after he left, Fantine drops off the nearly-three Cosette to live with the Thénardiers. Fantine had three letters written pleading for him to come back, but he didn't.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Going to meet the missing father is what kicks off the plot of Trace Memory.
  • Silent Hill: Shattered Memories: Harry Mason to Cheryl.
  • This is a main plot hook in Fallout 3. Not long after, he pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to stop the Enclave from getting Project Purity. Unfortunately, Colonel Autumn recovers.
  • This is also the main plot hook in Mega Man Star Force.
  • As with similarities to its anime adaptation, all the Pokémon games in the main series seems to suffer from this, with the rival's included. The only games that seems to avert it is Sapphire/Ruby/Emerald in the Hoenn generation, where it was solely because your father was a major figure in the game, and Diamond/Pearl/Platinum in the Sinnoh generation, where your rival's father is the champion of the Battle Tower. The most mention of a father in the original games is a mention that "dad would like this" about a TV program.
    • As far as spin-offs go, the player character of XD's dad is explicitly dead.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2, the protagonist's father is mentioned exactly once, to establish that nobody in West Harbor has ever met him. Of course, seeing as their mother is only mentioned a handful of times and they are raised by a friend of their mother that is understandable.
  • We see the mother of Final Fantasy VII's Cloud in a flashback, but never his father.
    • Tifa's father was murdered by Sephiroth in his Nibelheim rampage. In front of young Tifa, to make it worse.
    • Then we have Dyne, Marlene's biological father and Barret's old friend, who passed the Despair Event Horizon after Shinra's destruction of Corel Village and unwillingly getting an Arm Cannon; after that, he's pretty much an Empty Shell of the man he once was. He becomes a full DD when Barret defeats him in combat; he then begs him to keep taking care of Marlene and throes himself off a cliff, despite Barret's pleas.
    • Aerith's father was Professor Gast Faremist, a scientist who was Hojo and Lucrecia's "partner" in the experiments that would lead to Sephiroth's birth. He left Shinra few afterwards and later lived with a Cetra woman, Ifalna, and fathered Aerith with her, but was gunned down by Hojo while trying to protect his wife and daughter; Ifalna dies some time later, but manages gto entrust Elmyra with bitty Aerith before kicking it.
  • Crono's father in Chrono Trigger.
    • Not only Crono's, but Magus's father never appears during the game, either. It is vaguely stated by an NPC that Queen Zeal (Janus' mother) hasn't been the same since the King died, at which point she started neglecting her children and unwittingly turned Janus' sister Schala into his mother figure.
    • The sequel, Chrono Cross, continued this with the noticeable absence of Serge's father, although we see Serge's mother at the beginning of (and various times throughout) the game.
  • Wild ARMs 4's Jude lost his father before he was even born. He later finds out what happened to him when he fights him to save the world, and later convinces him to finally let his spirit rest after the battle.
    • This seems to be a pretty common trope for Wild ARMs protagonists, Virginia from Wild ARMs 3 was abandoned by the father who taught her to use her ARMs. This is doubled when we later find out that her absent father was also a substitute father figure for fellow playable character Jet. Then, after he seemingly comes back, it's revealed that he's actually a "recording" of sorts of her real father made by a electronic library, a mere projection. Virginia then has to "kill" him when she destroys the library. Abandoned again.
  • The prologue to Dragon Quest III shows the hero's father, Ortega, fighting a dragon on the rim of a pit. They both fall in, and are never seen again. Until you get to near the end of the game, where the dragon kills him, and then you finish it off for him.
    • Which totally inspires Fridge Logic when you realize Ortega's been missing/presumed dead for about ten years. In all that time in, presumably, the Dark World, he not only managed to reach the Charlock Castle without the rainbow bridge, but failed to become stronger than his son/daughter, despite the fact that he was already much, much stronger than that, considering the fact that he's on the final floor of the last dungeon in the game? What the hell?
  • An inversion of this trope occurs in Dragon Quest V. You are the Dissapeared Dad to your son and daughter, having been turned to stone along with your wife by the villains shortly after they were born. Eight years later, however, they manage to find you and turn you back to normal.
  • Tales of Symphonia: True to the trope, Lloyd's]] father isn't really gone. He's one of three millennia-old beings running counteracting Xanatos Gambits. And his having a family was the major reason he broke off his alliance with the Big Bad.
  • In the Purple Moon games, Sharla's father walked out on her and refuses to take her to a father-daughter function previous to her teenage rebellion, which is implied to be partially caused by this. Nobody knows where Dana's father is, either, but she certainly doesn't like her stepfather much.
  • In EarthBound, Ness's father is always away, and can only be contacted by telephone. In fact, in the ending credits his sprite is the telephone.
    • Same goes for MOTHER. Mother 3 is the only game in the series with a father that's present, though he does disappear for about half of the game while searching in the mountains for Claus.
  • Because of the strong female influence on the Fey clan in the Ace Attorney games, the fathers of prominent characters, sisters Mia and Maya, and Pearl are never mentioned, and explained to have grown into obscurity either by death no one cares about, or that they left the family for financial or personal reasons. The clan itself has an abnormally high divorce rate, and seeing all these divorces is why Pearl wants Maya and Phoenix to get together.
    • This also seems to be the case with the Apollo Justice game on Apollo himself after Lamiroir is revealed to be his birth mother, with only a passing mention that his father died in an accident a long time ago.
    • In Investigations, Lauren Paup's father left before she was old enough to even remember his face, which is why she never noticed that the butler Oliver Deacon actually was her father. He was in hiding from the law and thus couldn't reveal his identity to her.
    • It's unclear whether her mother is alive or not due to her vague mention of going to live with her 'mother's family', but Kay Faraday's father dies very dramatically when she's ten. A young Edgeworth solves the case but the killer isn't brought into custody until seven years after the murder.
  • In Seiken Densetsu 3, Duran's father died while on a quest to defeat the Dragon Emperor. This becomes an important plot point for Duran's story later on, as a setup for a Luke, I Am Your Father scene with the Darkshine Knight.
  • In Sam and Max Freelance Police Season 2, it is revealed that Bosco was a test tube baby (courtesy of an instant-baby-generating contraption that extracts DNA from saliva samples), due to the fact that his mother was a feminist who wanted total independence from men. The source of Bosco's paternal DNA (and thus his biological father) is revealed to be then-president John F. Kennedy, who his mother met (but apparently did not recognize) about two and a half months before his death.
  • Sparda from the Devil May Cry series. He's treated as gone, but what exactly happened to him hasn't been elaborated on.
  • Jecht from Final Fantasy X messed up his kid by disappearing for ten years, then messes him up even more by not being quite the same upon resurfacing. It turns out that Jecht became the Final Aeon for the last Final Summoning, resulting in him becoming the current Sin because of the Vicious Cycle perpetuated by Yu Yevon.
  • An interesting take on this trope occurs in Rune Factory 2 where the missing dad is the main character. Instead of the game following him when he leaves his family, player control switches over to his son/daughter who embarks on a quest to find out what happened to his/her father.
  • Princess Zelda's father is ostensibly the King of Hyrule, but he's missing from almost every game in the entire series, leaving his underaged daughter to run the kingdom. And in one of the only two games where he is seen (The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time),[2] he's murdered by the Big Bad.
    • Lest we forget, her father was in the dreaded CD-I games.
    • Link himself is even worse off. His mother is mentioned in about one game (Ocarina of Time, again) and his father never. The closest relatives he ever lived with was an uncle, a grandma and a little sister. He even played Knight Templar Big Brother to the later.
    • In The Legend of Zelda Majoras Mask, Anju lives with her mother and grandmother, but her father has died (a fact you'd learn if you speak to Anju while she is making lunch on the First Day). In an obscure cutscene, she and her mother talk about fleeing to the ranch, and it's revealed that Anju's father mysteriously left years before and was never seen again. This is part of the reason Anju's mother is so angry at Kafei and is skeptical that he'll return.
  • Star Fox: James McCloud, Fox' father, disappears in the backstory. He has been on-screen a few times, but likely as a hallucination every time.
  • Ritz from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance has mentioned her mother before, but never her father.
  • In the game Persona 4, Kanji Tatsumi's father is implied by his mother to have collapsed while Kanji was somewhere else. He was proclaimed dead at the hospital.
  • It is never explained what happened to Lara's parents in the first Tomb Raider series, although according to the backstory of Legend, Richard Croft died/disappeared during an expedition in Cambodia. She has a Missing Mom too, so that's Parental Abandonment.
    • Underworld reveals the details of what happened; Lara's mother became a zombie upon being transported to the Norse underworld and Lara's father was killed by the Big Bad for not co-operating with her plans
  • In Final Fantasy VI, Relm's parents are only directly referred to in her equitable Orphan's Plot Trinket, whose description says "departed mother's love protects from instant death attacks". Shadow, the ninja, can also wear it and has nightmares of siring a daughter and abandoning her after the mother suffers Death by Childbirth.
  • In Dragon Age, the Dwarf Commoner origin is sad. You're a lowlife thug, born as a Casteless, forever shunned by the rest of your kind, without almost any rights and stuck in the aptly-named Dust Town. Your sister is on her way to become a pseudo-prostitute and your mother is a bitter alcoholic. Your father? Left to find a new life on the surface. You should really feel sorry for yourself.
  • In Dragon Age II, Feynriel's father Vincento walked out on his mother when he discovered she was pregnant, partly because his work as a trader couldn't allow family time, but mostly because he wasn't interested in having a son. It obviously had quite an effect on Feynriel, because in "Night Terrors," the Desire Demon's Lotus Eater Machine scenario involves him being accepted by Vincento and taken along with him on his travels.
  • Mass Effect 2: This comes up in three of the loyalty-securing missions.
    • The first: Jacob learns that his father, who has been presumed dead for ten years, might still be alive. He admits that they hadn't spoken for ages even before the man vanished, but he naturally wants to investigate. He doesn't like what he finds.
    • Second: Thane, who is the absent father trying to reunite with his son Kolyat... so he can stop Kolyat from following in his footsteps as an assassin. It's even called "Cat's in the Cradle".
    • Third: Tali'Zorah's father (as mentioned in the first Mass Effect) was a "Well Done Daughter" Gal type, and as we find out come 2, he was also a "going through the motions" type in day-to-day, because he was so focused on reclaiming the Quarian homeworld as a "gift" to her. He wound up being killed by an experiment gone wrong.
    • Subverted with Shepard themself if you choose the Spacer origin, while Shepard's mother is briefly interacted with in the first game and mentioned many times as a highly respected navy captain in the second. Shepard's father is never mentioned at all.
  • Mass Effect 3 - what little James Vega mentions about his father doesn't paint their relationship in a good light. As the Reaper invasion means Shepard has a lot less time to sort out their teammates' personal issues, whatever caused the falling-out remains a mystery the whole game. The Homeworlds comic shows what happened.
  • Scaler's dad left when he was little. It later turns out that Leon is his father - and had been stuck in a different world.
  • In Assassin's Creed 2, you get to see Ezio's father "disappear"... executed by hanging.
  • In Suikoden III Chris' father has been missing since she was little. She meets up with him again as he is dying.
  • In Evolution Worlds, Mag's father, Asroc Launcher has been missing for three years when the game starts.
  • In Car Battler Joe, Joe's father has been missing for years, and Joe sets out to find him.


Visual Novel[edit | hide]

  • Ever 17: The Out of Infinity: You's father was a researcher at Leiblich Pharmaceutical, and disappeared under mysterious circumstances a year after You was born.
    • Rare protagonist example: Takeshi becomes one to Hokuto and Sara, though in his case, at least he had his reasons (not to mention he didn't know they existed.
  • Emiya Kiritsugu in Fate Stay Night for Shirou and also Ilya. Tohsaka's father died in the last holy grail war. Both are fairly important due to their absence, the former more so than the latter.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, we have Emi Ibarazaki's father. He died eight years ago, in the same accidnt where Emi lost her legs. His death mentally scarred Emi a LOT, but she hides it.
    • Lilly Satou's father lives abroads, and so does her mother. Lilly's sister Akira pretty much raised her, and she's not exactly happy about it; she loves Lilly very much but clearly knows that she cannot replace their parents.
    • Hanako Ikezawa's father died in the fire that left her scarred and fully orphaned.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Count Your Sheep has a Disappeared Dad in the form of Marty who we only ever hear about in flashbacks or wistful reminiscences. He's explicitly dead, though.
  • Narbonic both inverts and averts the trope, as the first time we hear about Helen's father it's implied Helen's mother served him for dinner, and then once the truth is revealed, we discover there never was a dad -- Helen is a clone; it turns out to be a Should've Seen That Coming due to the fact that Helen's mother is a Mad Scientist.
  • In Fans!, many of neurotic Ice Queen Shanna's issues stem from the fact that her father abandoned her and her insane mother when she was just a child. Unlike many of the fathers on this page, however, when he does finally appear he's treated somewhat sympathetically; whilst his abandonment of his wife and daughter isn't condoned he's depicted as an uptight-but-decent man who just snapped under the pressure of his life and later genuinely regretted his actions, but felt too ashamed of himself to return.
  • Jodie's father (from Loserz) is missing, as told here.
  • In Misfile, Emily's father disappeared before she was born, never to return. His only contribution to the plot (apart from Emily obviously) was to ensure Emily's mother became the Education Mama we all know and...er...know. A fan theory has been advanced that Rumisiel could even be her father. We pray that it gets Jossed quickly.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob, the first time Molly ever hit anybody was when Galatea taunted her for not having a "real" daddy. (Molly felt very guilty afterwards for hitting her.)
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court Annie's father left her and her dead mother shortly after his wife passed away, without telling anyone where or why. He has refused to contact his daughter since. It is stated, though, that this behaviour isn't exactly new for him...
  • Kimiko's father hasn't really been around much in her life in Dresden Codak, aside from giving her a bunch of money when her mother died.
  • Faerun of Juathuur.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Susan's father left after being caught cheating and going through the ensuing bitter divorce. Neither Susan nor her mother handled it very well.
  • In Girl Genius, both of Agatha's biological parents and her uncle Barry have been missing for years. Her mother has since reappeared (sort of), but given that Lucrezia Mongfish is also The Other, Agatha would probably have been better off if she had stayed missing.
  • In The Dreamer, Alexander's dad left the family (or rather, his mom kicked him out) when he was about 10 years old. He's never seen him since.
  • In Out There, Miriam's mother makes occasional appearances, but the first time Miriam mentions her father, she implies she hasn't seen him for awhile, if ever.
  • In Order of the Stick, Elan's father was one of these, until recently. Haley's father has apparently been kidnapped. Roy's father, however, has been quite active in his son's life, even though he's dead.
    • Eugene is an interesting case. It seems that he wasn't active in Roy's life until he died; prior to that he seems to have been quite neglectful, was bitter that Roy became a fighter instead of a wizard and showed clear Parental Favoritism to Julia. However, he specifically passed up a chance to defeat Xykon because it would have involved abandoning the family and possibly putting them in danger, but specifically lied to Roy saying he would have left them if given the chance.
    • Haley's reunited with Ian but unfortunately they no longer get along, since she's abandoned the paranoia-happy way he tried to raise her.
  • In Overlord of Ravenfell, Razin's father was a feared Evil Overlord who was killed in a battle against a hero.
  • In Strays, Meela's father never appears; she also dreams of a boy whose father was murdered.
  • In Memoria, Cazula's Backstory.
  • Eiji of Ninth Elsewhere; he claims to see his father at family dinners once in a while, but his mother points out that he hasn't been to one in months.
  • In The Adventures of Shan Shan, this lends weight to It Was a Gift: she received it just before he disappeared.
  • In No Rest for The Wicked, The Boy's father threw him out—as he did in the Fairy Tale. Even his sunshiny nature can't ignore it entirely; he's wistful seeing how much November's father loves her.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In The Gamers Alliance, Omaroch vanished from the lives of his sons Refan and Kareth but later returned to guide them. It turns out he was kidnapped by his brothers who then tortured and brainwashed him to serve the dark god Mardük, and he returned only to use the sons for fulfilling an ancient prophecy about Mardük. He eventually snaps out of it, but by that time it's too late; the damage has already been done, and he has not only lost the trust of his sons but also indirectly causes the Cataclysm and the birth of the Godslayer.
  • Erika's New Perfume: So far there has been no mention of the patriarch of the Swanson family in the original story or in any of the sequels or related comics. He does end up appearing eventually. According to the author, there was an ugly divorce, which is why he didn't show up for some time; Veronica (Mrs. Swanson) was likely deliberately avoiding talking about him.
  • While what actually went on is unclear, The Nostalgia Critic still lives with his abusive mother. His Dad, who Critic still appears to have scary memories of, is implied to have left the family a while ago and it's also likely that he died before the Alaska review. (This is all in-character, of course, Doug's parents are lovely and helpful.)


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • As Told by Ginger: Ginger's dad is divorced. And he's been making promises to Ginger and letting her down for years. By the end of the series, he's only visited Ginger a few times, and most of those meetings weren't exactly Kodak moments.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Katara and Sokka started out with a Missing Mom, followed by their father Hakoda becoming a Disappeared Dad when he left to fight the Fire Nation, leaving Gran-Gran doing the raising and a full-on case of Parental Abandonment. Their father does come back, only to have Katara angrily tell him off before they definitely reconcile, and then he is gone again, captured by the Fire Nation.
      • In fact, Katara and Sokka's entire village has a case of Disappeared Dad. All the men have gone off to fight the war against the Fire Nation. All of them. Sokka is the oldest male around.
    • Zuko's father Ozai the Fire Lord only appeared as silhouettes and partial face shots for the first two seasons. Given that he disfigured and banished his only son, he qualifies as the "missing in fulfillment of fatherly duties" sort anyway. Fortunately, Zuko has a substitute father figure in his kind uncle Iroh
    • Aang is a full-on case of Parental Abandonment, as far as anyone knows, but he had some substitute father figures: Monk Gyatso, Avatar Roku.
    • Toph is an almost forced-inversion example. Her parents are present, but sheltered and narrow in their thinking. They're also so inattentive of their "tiny, helpless fragile" child that they leave the overwhelming majority of her caretaking to servants. Because of this, Toph is able to secretly become a master Earthbender under their noses. And upon finding out, instead of being impressed, Mr. Bei Fong tightens the yoke of parental overprotectiveness, which results in Toph abandoning her parents and running away with Aang's group.
  • Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends
    • Mac and Terrence's father is a Disappeared Dad, though Word of God tells us he's dead.
    • Frankie, however, is a total Parental Abandonment case, as Madame Foster is her grandmother and we see no signs of her parents. Given her age, she just might have moved out of her parents' house, but she has also appeared in old copies of the annual house photo, giving the impression that Madame Foster raised her.
    • Goo on the other hand, is an aversion. Her parents are alive, just mostly offscreen.
  • Johnny Bravo is a Momma's Boy, but there's no mention of what happened to his father.
  • The Powerpuff Girls foe Princess has a father who's present, but he mainly is a walking bankroll who isn't there for her in any way that doesn't involve throwing money at her.
  • Rocket Power
    • Sam Dullard's father was the now-you-see-him-now-you-don't variety, just barely. We know that his father is an executive with no time for the family, and that's why there was a divorce. When he shows up in Ocean Shores, he is physically there, but so busy with work, he's still absent.
  • In The Weekenders, Tino's father seems to be disappeared.
    • It's later revealed that Tino's mom divorced him, and that he lives on the other side of the country, so he can only visit once or twice a year. He does show up in a few episodes.
  • WITCH, Will's father: In the TV series, he returns tries to make amends for being absent so long. However, in the comics Mr. Vandom had a gambling problem so huge it was ruining his family life, so Susan ended divorcing him and moving away to protect Will. He later hired a private investigator and threatened to take custody - only for blackmailing Susan into giving him more money.
  • There's an episode of Batman the Animated Series wherein the ex-con father of a little girl can turn Invisible with some Applied Phlebotinum, which makes him literally a Disappeared Dad. Not only that, but his ex-wife tells him:
  • And then there's Batman Beyond, where Terry McGuinness's father dies before the Third Act of the pilot movie. Then the finale to Justice League Unlimited reveals Bruce Wayne as Terry and his brother Matthew's biological father, due to some genetic tinkering by Amanda Waller.
  • At the start of Home Movies, Brenden's (divorced) dad is an example of this trope, but he then reappears and awkwardly attempts to connect with his son.
    • Until he has a kid with his new wife Linda and disappears again completely
  • In Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Gadget's father Geegaw is dead.

"He's not coming back. I lost him over a year ago."

  • In Pepper Ann the title character's parents divorced years before the beginning of the series, her father is often mentioned but never shown until the Christmas episode. He does appear in a few episodes after that, though.
  • Skwisgaar Skwigelf of Metalocalypse has no idea who his father is and likely never will, due to his mother, a faded former beauty queen, being... just a TAD promiscuous.
  • In Street Sharks, the disappearance of the protagonists' father is one of the running mysterious. He shows up very briefly in the first episode, during which time he is turned into an unseen monster by his Mad Scientist college, but he never shows up again after that (though he is mentioned in other episodes)
  • An interesting case on ReBoot - Dot and Enzo Matrix's father was responsible for the explosion that nullified Mainframe's twin city, turning everyone there into nulls, mindless energy-draining slugs, as well as splitting the virus that his gateway drew to the system into recurring antagonists Megabyte and Hexadecimal (Hex later begins to think of herself as Dot's sister because of this). The null that was Wellman Matrix was taken by Megabyte to be a pet, referred to as 'Nibbles.' (Or, on one occasion, 'Father.')
  • Professor Membrane from Invader Zim: though he technically is the one raising his kids, he's at the lab so much that many episodes have him communicating with his family through a floating screen (which many fans suspect uses recordings rather than live messages). Their Missing Mom makes this practically a full case of Parental Abandonment.
  • On Phineas and Ferb, no mention is ever made of Phineas and Candace's biological father, though their stepfather cheerfully takes up the role.
  • In Minoriteam, Fasto never knew his father because his mother said she didn't know who he was. As an adult, he discovered his dad was an alien from the planet Blackton and his mom had lied to him the entire time. "Wait, so you pretended you didn't know who my father was? Damn, that's like the opposite of every other kid in the ghetto."
  • The Fairly OddParents: Cosmo's dad shows up in a home movie, but now Mama Cosma is noticeably single. Crocker also has a single mother, even when he's ten.
    • It was shown that Cosmo turned him into a fly, with possibly no way to reverse it.
  • For having one of the most extensive casts, it becomes all the more noticeable to see the absence of Marge's dad, whose fate has only been casually mentioned.
  • The dingo family's father in Blinky Bill is virtually nonexistant.
  • In Winx Club Bloom suffers from this for the first three seasons. Her birth parents are missing, but she DOES have her adoptive parents.
  • Jonny Quest. Hadji is an orphan whose parents are never mentioned.
    • Jonny Quest the Real Adventures provides a backstory where Hadji's father was a sickly man and died young. His uncle and cousin force his mother to flee and attempt to have Hadji assassinated. His would-be assassin took pity on the kid instead and later handed him over to Dr. Quest to be given a new life in America.
  • In Hurricanes, the main female character is a teenage girl who inherited a soccer team from her deceased Dad.
  • Wheel Squad: Emilie's biological father is never mentioned. Fortunately her stepfather is happy about filling the role.
  1. He's the creator of the Intersect, the very same one that Chuck would eventually have in his head.
  2. He isn't even seen, but present offscreen when Link first gets a glimpse of Ganondorf while he's pretending loyalty to the king.