Papa Wolf/Film

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Other Examples


Megatron: "Is the future of our race not worth the life of a single human?"
Optimus Prime: "You'll never stop at one!! I'll take you ALL on!!"

      • To be fair, Megatron only impaled Optimus because the latter was distracted to find Sam. That and Optimus didn't bring both swords out from the start.
    • It should also be noted that in the first live-action movie, Prime comes to the rescue when Sector Seven kidnaps Sam and Mikaela, lifting their car thirty feet in the air and tearing the top off while intoning, "Taking the children was a bad move," in pure bad-ass fashion.
    • And in Dark of the Moon, after Sentinel Prime, Optimus's father figure and teacher, led an invasion that enslaved and murdered MILLIONS of innocent civilians in Chicago, Optimus would shoot said person execution style. The line he uttered as he saw the destruction of Chicago was chilling.

Optimus: "We will kill them all."

  • Homer Hickham Sr. in the film version of October Sky is something of a subversion: he's actually protecting somebody else's son from his stepfather, the resident abusive alcoholic. Does the whole grab-you-by-the-collar thing without the punch-you-in-the-face part, all the while plagued by soot-filled lungs. His personal Crowning Moment of Awesome. The exchange is reproduced here:

Homer Hickam, Sr: Now you listen to me you drunken son of a bitch. If that boy's father were still alive, he'd kick your ass. So I'm gonna have to do it for him. If I see him with a bruise... you get a scar. If I see him with a limp... you get crutches! Do you hear me? Do you hear me?
Vernon: I'm reportin' you to the union!
Homer Hickam, Sr: Screw you and your damn union!

  • Colonel Badass Ahnuld from Commando acts pretty unassumingly in civil life, but when the villains kidnap his pre-teen daughter...
    • Whenever Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a father in any of his action flicks, expect some serious Papa Wolf action to go down if the bad guys mess with his kids. Case in point: True Lies -- when the Big Bad kidnaps Harry Tasker's daughter, Harry goes after him with a fucking Harrier jet fighter. And sends the Big Bad on a missile ride.
    • Arnie plays a mild-mannered ex-military helicopter pilot (who takes skiers up mountains) in The 6th Day. He fails to die on schedule, and the company responsible kidnaps his wife and daughter to try to force his compliance. Then he and his clone (yes, it's that kind of movie, and why he was supposed to be dead) destroy the company with a tin of aluminum oxide and one pistol between them. If you can't say Made Of Awesome, I'll do it for you.
    • The Governator doesn't even need to play a father, just having a character who's got to take care of children or teens is enough. Kindergarten Cop has a particularly emotional scene where his character, a police detective posing as a a school teacher, dishes out a brutal beating to an abusive father of an emotionally damaged student. "You hit the kid, I hit you," indeed.
      • And let's not forget that the climax of the movie was him having a showdown with the Big Bad, who happened to also be the father of the little boy whom he's been keeping an eye on under his cover. The moment the villain kidnaps the poor kid with the intention of running away with him is the moment Arnold TRULY goes for blood.
    • Parodied in Last Action Hero, where the movie from which Arnold's cop character is lifted includes a face-off with the Big Bad who abducted his kid.
  • Liam Neeson's Ex-Special-Forces commander Bryan of the film Taken (see page quote) shows the organization that kidnapped his daughter the exact reason why you don't screw around with an ex-CIA operative's kids. In a particularly brutal example of this trope, he is willing to go as far as threaten to kill a Corrupt Cop and former friend's innocent wife AFTER winging her with a bullet to show he's serious to save his daughter from being sold into prostitution. The entire movie is effectively a paean to the Papa Wolf trope.
  • Liam Neeson's character in Nell, who winds up very protective of the borderline Wild Child (wild adult, by then) he and another doctor have been observing since her mother's death. A reporter who sneaks up trying to get a picture of the rumored "wild woman" gets thrown down the front steps of Nell's cabin and his camera broken for his troubles. Neeson's character does admit he overreacted, only to chase the reporter away when the idiot keeps asking questions.
  • The Direct to DVD Steven Seagal movies Belly Of The Beast and Out of Reach. In the latter, he isn't actually even the girl's father, making it all the stupider.
    • OTOH, he also plays more than one real Papa Wolf out there.
  • Woe betide anyone stupid enough to try and harm Godzilla's son. Not even a Giant Spider can get away with it. There's a reason that one film is called Godzilla's Revenge.
    • This is especially evident in the film Godzilla vs. Destoroyah in which the death of his son, killed by Destoroyah himself, caused Godzilla to go into a emotional ragefest and attack Destoroyah out of pure unrestrained fury.
      • Destoroyah is also the single most powerful enemy in the entire series bar none, battling the King of Monsters to a standstill even when his power was at 150% overload. Killing Jr. pissed Godzilla off so hard that he actually forced the Ax-Crazy Destoroyah, who till this point had done nothing but viciously attack almost single-mindedly, into a retreat!
    • Likewise, there's the American Godzilla who is both a Papa Wolf AND Mama Bear (don't ask).
  • Another example: King Kong in the 2005 remake behaves like this whenever he's protecting Anne Darrow, who's tiny and vulnerable enough to bring out the big fellow's Papa Silverback side.
  • Big Chris in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Made the mistake of threatening his son, Little Chris? Big Chris is just about to have another Moment of Awesome with a car door.
  • John Wayne spends the majority of Big Jake tracking down and in the end blasting seven hells out of a bunch of bandits who kidnapped his grandson. Grandpa Wolf, indeed.
  • Tommy Lee Jones also played a Grandpa Wolf in The Missing. He was a Disappeared Dad and Grandpa hoping to try getting his family's forgiveness... and arrived back home just in time to learn that his eldest granddaughter has been kidnapped and was about to be sold as a child bride. So when his daughter (played by Cate Blanchett) went Mama Bear to get her girl back, he decided he wouldn't be less and joined her cause. So much that he defeated the Big Bad via Taking You with Me, killing himself in the process.
    • The role that followed that one was Man in the House, where he's a sheriff who has to protect a bunch of cheerleader girls after they witness a murder. Hilarity Ensues until not only one of the girls is almost killed by a car bomb, but the man's daughter is kidnapped...
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader, of all people, has his Papa Wolf moments--not surprising since his attempts to preemptively protect Padme was what drove him to the Dark Side in the first place. In Return of the Jedi, the Emperor's torture of his son Luke is what turns him back from The Dark Side and kills him.
  • Benjamin Martin in The Patriot is firmly against a war for independence and submissive towards the over-the-top villain...until his farm is burned down, one of his sons is killed, and another is arrested and taken away to be hanged. Then he goes after the Redcoats with muskets and hatchets...
  • Harrison Ford in pretty much every movie that he's been in that wasn't Indiana Jones or Star Wars
    • Temple of Doom begs to differ. Why was he captured by the villains? Because he wanted to protect a helpless child from being whipped to death, not to mention proceeding to fight the entire villain's army to free the hundreds of slave children, and giving up the mystical stones that would have made him a millionaire so the village they return to would be one filled with life and hope. Easily the single most heroic Papa Wolf performance for Harrison Ford.
      • "They're innocent children... Mola Ram, prepare to meet Kali, IN HELL!!"
    • Spoofed in Family Guy with the movie "Harrison Ford Telling Random People He Wants His Family Back."
    • Don't forget what pushed him into agreeing to help look for the Grail (though, given what happens with the man who gives him the news, he might not necessarily have had a choice) - finding his dad. He was willing to put a guy through a ship's propeller, and if the man wasn't a soft-core Knight Templar...
      • Does this make the actual Knight Templar at the end of the movie a metaphor?
  • The movie Orca the Killer Whale has a Papa Wolf of a titular killer whale, seeking bloody vengeance against the man who killed his mate and calf.
    • What's now known of orca social behavior makes this unlikely to be a literal example of this trope. A son retaliating for the death of its mother, now...
  • The premise of The Last House on the Left is about a group of people who get trapped inside a house with a Papa Wolf and a Mama Bear after they brutalize and rape the couple's daughter. Three guesses as to what happens next.
  • While not actually the child's father, John "Creasy Bear" Creasy (Denzel Washington) in the movie Man on Fire is a spectacular example of a Papa Wolf. As a bodyguard for Lupita (a rich businessman's precocious daughter) in Mexico City, John doesn't let multiple gunshot wounds stop him from tearing through a powerful kidnapping cartel's chain of command until finally he catches the mastermind's brother and estranged wife. When the "Voice" starts trying to bargain his way out of John's vengeance, John interrupts him to say, "Your brother wants to speak to you," and then blows off the man's hand with a shotgun. It's implied that he would move on from there to the rest of the Voice's family, including his pregnant wife, and worse: "I will take your family apart, piece by piece. Do you hear me? PIECE BY PIECE!"
    • In the novel, it's worse: Since the girl who is under his custody is dead (details aside) he ended up OFFING THE WHOLE MAFIOSO ORGANIZATION. And he comes off as much more dangerous than his already incredibly dangerous performance in the movie.
  • Another Papa Wolf score for Denzel Washington is John Q, where to make sure that his Ill Boy son Michael will get a heart transplant which is being denied to him because insurance doesn't cover it, John Quincy Archibald actually takes a full hospital hostage and claims he won't back off until Michael is given priority. John goes as far as improvising a Thanatos Gambit so his heart will be harvested and given to his child, but it fails. In the Bittersweet Ending, however, John is still trialed and incarcerated, but Michael is saved.
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera: Most of the time Nathan Wallace is an Overprotective Dad, but when he's in Repo Man mode he flips to Papa Wolf.
  • The daddy T-rex in The Lost World. Teamed up with his Mama Bear to shove two connected RV's off a cliff after their hatchling was taken. Of course, being a T-rex, he was already a badass.
    • Later went on a rampage across San Diego just to find his baby. It doesn't help that he was high on amphetamines.
  • John McClane in Die Hard 4 - After he gets involved in the terrorists' Scheme, the Big Bad decides to kidnap his daughter Lucy to try to control John. Big mistake.
  • In Superman Returns, Lois Lane's otherwise uninteresting and mildly dickish fiancé Richard White gets a lot more likeable when he appears in his sea plane to save Lois and young Jason from a sinking ship in what doubles as his Crowning Moment of Awesome:

Lois: How'd you get here??
Richard: I flew.

    • Ironically, Superman never really gets to play the part of Papa Wolf in the movie, even though Jason is his son and Lois is his Love Interest.
  • Though it's too little and too late to do any good, Will's father Bootstrap Bill Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean snaps out of his brainwashing, and attacks Davy Jones in a moment of Papa Wolf fury.
    • Captain Teague shoots the solider who was going to shoot Jack in the 4th film.
  • Major Henry West from 28 Days Later utterly snaps after his men are killed by Jim.
  • Lone Wolf McQuade: You can beat him, shoot him, bury him alive, and even shoot his dog and maybe survive, but if you hurt his daughter, you will open the whole can of Chuck Norris whoopass.
    • Note that the badguy who gets his ass kicked is played by David Carradine. If he couldn't stop Chuck, what chance would anyone else have? Likely something involving a 13 digit negative number.
  • Chingachgook from Last of the Mohicans, though it's more out of vengeance than protection.
  • Sirius Black in the fifth Harry Potter film:

Sirius: Get away from my godson! {{[[["Hey You!" Haymaker]] POW}}]

    • As well as James Potter. He decided to take on Voldemort on this own, knowing it almost certainly meant death (he even said to Lily "I'll hold him off", indicating he knew he stood no chance) because it gave his wife and son a chance of escaping.(He wouldn't have had a chance against the Dark Lord anyway, but on top of that, he wasn't holding a wand. It makes this into a heroic sacrifice.)
  • Death Sentence is a very cynical take on Papa Wolf-hood, and on revenge in general. When Nick Hume's older son gets killed by a gang member and he learns that the gang member will only receive a few years in jail, he forces the case to be dropped so that he can kill the bad guy himself. In doing so, he is forced to kill another member of that gang. However, the gang's head doesn't take kindly to this and swears vengeance on Nick's family. Nick being an Action Survivor rather than a hardened Badass, he fails to stop the gang. Though his younger son survives and he gets back at the gang successfully, it's quite clearly shown that Nick ends up far from the man he used to be. Not all positively.
  • Cradle 2 the Grave:

Tony Fait: Wrong! Kid! And definitely the wrong father.

  • Dr. Tenma in the 2009 Astro Boy film. After he accepts Astro for who he is, it's made clear that he's willing to face the military, its angry Commander in Chief, and its scary indestructible robot to protect his boy. Makes you wonder what would happen if you threatened Astro while there was a chance Dad might get his hands on you.
  • In Tank, you can cross CSM Zack Carey all you like, and he will calmly accept it. However, if you harm a kid, he will come down on you like a ton of bricks.
  • Pops from Speed Racer puts his Greco-Roman wrestling skills to work while protecting his family from ninjas, er, non-jas.
  • Coming to America provides a nonviolent example in Cleo McDowell, an amiable and slightly Bumbling Dad who's eager to marry his daughter Lisa off to a rich boy. He's therefore over the moon when he discovers her suitor Akeem is actually a prince. But when Akeem's father King Jaffe upsets Lisa, McDowell drops the bumbling act and angrily threatens to "break a foot off in your royal ass."
  • Universal's 1934 movie The Black Cat gives us Dr. Vitus Werdegast (as played by Bela Lugosi), who takes revenge on Poelzig for killing his daughter (among other things, but that was what sent him over the edge). by skinning the man alive on his own embalming rack. And what's worse is that only a few moments earlier, he had been given hope that his daughter was actually alive after thinking that she had been dead since he's been sent to the prison camp.
  • A strange case in The Wolf Man (2010). When Anthony Hopkins shoots on those who want to catch his son, he is a Papa Wolf. But later he tries to kill Lawrence. And he already killed his brother. And he is a werewolf.
  • Subverted by Keyser Soze in The Usual Suspects. In a tale told in universe, some Turkish mobsters break into Soze's home and brutalize his family, holding them hostage. When Soze returns home, he promptly pulls a gun on the mobsters... then turns the gun on his family, saying he'd rather they die than live another day.
  • In Back to The Future II, Marty gets chased out of the "dark 1985" version of his house by a baseball bat-wielding Papa Wolf, who is enraged to find Marty in what, in the altered timeline, is the bedroom of the Papa Wolf's young daughters. Based on what he's screaming, it's not the first time people had broken into his home.
  • An unusual although understandable example would be Walt from Gran Torino, who is Papa Wolf toward his neighbors once he gets over some racial tension, but not toward his "own spoiled-rotten family" who treat him more like an invalid than a worthwhile individual. When he comes to Sue's rescue:

Walt Kowalski: Ever notice how you come across somebody once in a while you shouldn't have fucked with? (spits on the ground) That's me.

  • Léon: The Professional: Léon becomes a surrogate father to the orphaned Mathilda and protects her on her quest for vengeance, taking on the entire NYPD in the process.
  • Coach Jones of Radio becomes this on several occasions for Radio. In one instance, he slammed the Jerk Jock that tricked Radio to enter the girls' locker room into the trophy case display, after the eye-opening words of, "Son, it's times like these I wish I wasn't a teacher so I could do what I really want to do to you."
  • In Terminator 2, the T-800 is reprogrammed by John Connor to be this to his past self. John's mother even remarks on it in her narration.

Sarah Connor: Watching John with the machine, it was suddenly so clear. The Terminator would never stop. It would never leave him. And it would never hurt him, never shout at him or get drunk and hit him, or say it was too busy to spend time with him. It would always be there, and it would die to protect him. Of all the would-be fathers that came and went over the years, this thing, this machine, was the only one that measured up. In an insane world, it was the sanest choice.

  • Charlie Anderson in Shenandoah insists that the Civil War doesn't concern his family, even saying that his sons don't owe their state anything because the state "never came around here with a spare tit." But when some Union soldiers mistake his youngest for a rebel and take him prisoner, he starts taking the war personally.
  • The Godfather begins with a mortician making himself a client of Vito Corleone to outsource his Papa Wolf duties. The Don of course takes his Papa Wolfing quite seriously.
  • There's an excellent case for Mr White fulfilling this trope in Reservoir Dogs in his protectiveness over young protégé Mr Orange, to the point where he takes a bullet for him. He really, really doesn't like it when you accuse Orange of being a rat. When Orange indeed turns out to be the rat, Mr. White has to put the bullet to him in probably the most emotional moment of the entire movie.
  • Invoked in Away We Go when the expecting parents are discussing their future daughter.

Verona: [Do you promise] that her fights will be your fights?
Burt: I do.



  • Crazy Stupid Love: Cal's reaction upon finding out about Jacob and Hannah, and Jessica's father's reaction when he thinks Cal is involved with his daughter.
  • Sam Childers (Gerard Butler) in Machine Gun Preacher. If you threaten or harm the children of Sudan or Uganda, he will make sure that you pay. The best part: this film is based on a true story.
  • In the classic film Ma and Pa Kettle, Ma, Pa, and their large family move into an ultra-modern house Pa had won in a sweepstakes. Eventually Pa gets fed up with all the newfangled gadgets in the house, and moves back into the family's old home: a decrepit shack in the middle of a swampy junkyard. Meanwhile, Ma holds the police at a standoff with a shotgun after she learns the contest was a cruel publicity hoax. It takes the intervention of the Kettles' adult eldest son to bring her out of her rampage. Just as the woman who orchestrated the hoax decides not to press charges and offers Ma her most sincere apology, here comes Pa Kettle with the family wagon and a dozen or so of his Injun friends.


  • In North Country, Josey's dad was initially aloof about his daughter for reasons relating to her first pregnancy (where she was apparently promiscuous), although he eventually stood up for her at the union rally when she tried to expose the sexual harrassment problems at the mine she works at, also calling out his coworkers on this fact. However, the biggest example of his being a Papa Wolf comes in later: During the trial, Josey is forced to reveal what truly happened during her youth and the real reason she became pregnant with her son after one of the co-workers (who she also went to school with) exposed the knowledge of who the father of her first child was: It turns out that her teacher had in fact committed statutory rape on her after serving Saturday detention for skipping class and kissing said future co-worker, of which the only witness was said co-worker and he failed to stop him. As soon as the father learned the truth during the trial, he walks over to the teacher and then proceeds to go ballistic and attack him for raping Josey, resulting in him being forcibly removed from the courtroom.
  • The butler Cadbury in Richie Rich is something of a second father to Richie. The scene where Ferguson mandhandles Richie in the beginning of the movie says it all.

Ferguson: It's my job to protect him.
Cadbury: I know Mr. Ferguson, but touch him that way again and it is YOU who will need protecting.

  • As opposed to the king in the original fairy tale, in Snow White: A Tale of Terror Frederich goes out into the storm on his horse to find Lilli when he hears she's missing.
  • From Star Trek III: The Search For Spock: Forget about any "Wrath of Khan", the rage that Kirk exhibits after Kruge murders David is so fierce that he is willing to destroy The Enterprise out of revenge.
  • In Clash of the Titans, Zeus orders Poseidon to sic the Kraken on Argos when their cruel king has Danae and the infant Perseus placed in a chest and thrown in the sea to drown.

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