Wisdom, faithfulness, love and sincerity – these are the qualities that we can learn from parents, unless our parents fall short of the mark and end up not filling their shoes. However, one does not have to be a biological parent to leave a mark.

For Father’s Day, here is to honouring and remembering non-parental father figures.

1. Schneider- One Day At A Time

Schneider is the sweetest rich playboy. For Elena and Syd, he works towards being an LGBTQ+ ally. He takes it upon himself to spend the night making a list of non-gendered names for the non-binary Syd. They finally hit upon “significant other” and, in a cute twist, Schneider converts it into “Syd-nificant other.”

In a father-figure way, he financially helps the Alvarez family without hesitation out of pure love and is equipped with helping Penelope to deal with her anxiety attacks. He jumps to be the chaperone for Alex’s Travel Team. When the boys’ race maid carts into the hotel, Schneider brings Alex back home instantly, worried about Penelope not trusting him. He is adorable and cares about the kids in every way.

2. Rohan- Udaan

Bravado does not look like a parent proving authority and demanding respect from those who cannot reject it. It looks like grown-up children deciding to not raise more future abusers and unlearn their trauma. 

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Udaan discusses the process and impact of abuse from parents, the freedom in resistance and the hardships of unlearning one’s childhood. Rohan, in Udaan, decides to break the cycle of abuse by taking up a paternal role for his brother Arjun and becoming his first-ever safe space. Their father was an abusive and incompetent father and he rightfully loses his sons in the end because of Rohan’s bravery.

3. Captain Raymond Holt- Brooklyn Nine-Nine

What began as a typical relationship between an NYPD captain and a detective has evolved significantly throughout Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Jake went from calling Holt a robot, to calling him “dad”. Holt went from viewing Jake as an immature kid to seeing Jake as his immature kid. He and Amy both address Captain Holt as “dad” often. 

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In the early stages of their romance, Jake would frequently turn to him for relationship advice. Not only does this further their father/son bond, but it also adds beauty to him officiating their wedding later on. He is the coolest Da-ptain!

4. Ram Shankar Nikumbh- Taare Zameen Par

Ishaan Awasthi did not need people who understood dyslexia, he needed people who did not crucify him for it, compared him and berated him. He needed love and patience. Instead, the adults around him humiliate and punish him for his motor and academic struggles, without acknowledging his artistic skills. He faces isolation and bullying in an authoritarian boarding school. He rapidly sinks into a state of fear, anxiety, self-harm and depression.

Ram Shankar Nikumbh joins the school as a replacement art teacher. He quickly notes Ishaan’s misery. He tries to help him, figure out his dyslexic tendencies, and rediscover his art. Going above and beyond out of love, he visits Ishaan’s family to explain his plight. Ram provides Ishaan with the paternal warmth that he never got and becomes his tutor.

5. Tony Stark- MCU

Tony Stark and Peter Parker’s friendship in the MCU is a heartfelt relationship. He deeply cared about Peter and often replaced Uncle Ben as the father figure.

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He even takes up the fatherly role of giving tough love. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Iron Man saves the day and confiscates Peter’s new Spider-Man suit after Peter accidentally jeopardizes innocent lives. He forces Peter to examine his reliance on the suit and reclaim his true identity, saying, “If you’re nothing without the suit then you shouldn’t have it.”

6. Dr. Ghungroo- Welcome

All of us love Welcome and its characters. There are several characters who have paternal roles- RDX, Uday Bhai and Dr Ghungroo. However, our favourite is Dr Ghungroo.

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He endangers his life for his nephew’s future. From being selfless in letting go of his rules to temporarily laying on a pyre, he does it all to be a good father figure to Rajiv and Ishika.

7. Jim Hopper- Stranger Things

David Harbour‘s cranky father figure quickly became a breakout hit in Stranger Things. Hopper is a grumpy and caring father figure and struggling with grief. He even has the staple beloved dad bod. He was the dad everyone wanted. He was outwardly gruff but had a heart of gold.

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The visual language of the series is steeped in references and homages and Harbour’s surrogate father fits. Hopper becomes the perfect amalgamation of fictional fathers from the era that shaped Stranger Things. He ended the second season as a hero, even shadily adopting Eleven using his government connections.

8. Philip Banks– The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Philip Banks is one of TV’s greatest fathers. He was a flawed man who, despite everything, showed up for his family every day. He cares for his children in every scene and expressed his anger, at his children’s stupidity, healthily.

Will moves into Uncle Phil’s house to live with the Banks, where he feels comfortable and welcomed. Phil does not make Will feel unwanted and does not make him feel the absence of his biological father. On his temporary return, Will is happy to have him back, and immediately forgives him for his dream. Just as quickly as his father arrives, he also leaves with pathetic excuses. Heartbroken, Will asks why his father does not want him. Uncle Phil comforts him, proving that he is Will’s true father.

9. Mohit- Iqbal

Iqbal is a deaf and mute boy, who dreams of playing cricket for India. However, he is discouraged by his father who wants him to be a farmer like him. He faces ableism, and class discrimination, even losing opportunities to nepotism.

Iqbal persuades the local drunkard, Mohit, to be his coach. He was a previously celebrated cricketer. In a world that puts him down and a sport filled with corruption and nepotism, Mohit selflessly trains him. He recognises Iqbal’s potential the way his father never did and gets him a place on the Andhra Pradesh Ranji Trophy team.

10. Kattappa Bahubali

Kattappa is Amrendra’s uncle, friend and father figure. He is a loyal man and a fighter, who fights to protect Amrendra and spoils him. In his quest to win Devasena, he helps him woo her and defends both of them post-marriage. He makes sure to honour Amrendra’s kingship and rights, even in death.

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Even after Amrendra’s death, he copes with the guilt of murder by protecting Mahendra and Devasena. He takes up the fatherly role for two different generations and avenges wrongful coups.

One does not have to be a biological father to be a good father figure.

Not every biological father deserves to be one.

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Warmest hugs to our non-dad dads!