Now Reading
Author Alexander Darwin discusses the appeal of the found father trope

Author Alexander Darwin discusses the appeal of the found father trope

There’s a reason for Pedro Pascal’s recent rise in popularity and it isn’t just his natural charisma. It’s because he’s earned the place of “Daddy” in popular culture; both according to his massive fanbase as well as his own words (in viral videos where he proclaimed he’s a bigger Daddy than Oscar Issac, despite not even having kids).

Of course, the Chilean-born star is referring to his propensity for playing father-figure roles on TV, namely in recent hit shows The Mandalorian and The Last of Us. Even after his stint as Oberyn Marteyll on Game of Thrones, Pascal was relatively obscure to most, but after taking on the roles of Din Djarin and Joel, he rocketed to fame.

But the public obsession for the father-figure trope is not a new thing. It’s long been a common occurrence in film, tv, fiction and manga. Also called the “Lone Wolf and Cub” trope after it’s namesake manga, this narrative thread pins a gruff, past-his-prime man, with an innocent but mysterious childlike character.

Logan and Laura, Hopper and Eleven, Geralt and Ciri, Din Djarin and Grogu, Joel and Ellie; all these famous pairs follow a very familiar path. An older man has lost his way and he finds his path through a young disciple in need of help. This relationship is mutually beneficial; the youngin’ needs helpin’, and the father figure needs to view the world through innocent eyes to find his way again. And, of course, it doesn’t even need to be a man playing the father-figure. Ripley from Alien is a great example of a female taking on the father figure trope, as she protects Newt throughout the film.

Pedro Pascal found the perfect two roles to tap into our culture’s thirst for this trope. Both Din Djarin and Joel are highly competent in the ways of survival, but severely incompetent in their emotional honesty. They’re both damaged goods until they find their youngins’. These roles allow viewers to feel narrative momentum, both through the action required to protect the ‘chosen one’ as well as the emotional growth felt through their burgeoning relationship.

My own sci-fi debut, The Combat Codes, heavily relies on the father figure trope. Murray Pearson is a washed-up champion fighter who has lost faith in the nation he once stood in the ring for. And Cego is a teenager, a mysterious fighting prodigy who has no recollection of his past. The two need each other to discover the path ahead. It is the growing bond between Murray and Cego that pushes the plot forward.

The Combat Codes follows a long line of martial arts stories that merge the father figure trope with the “master-apprentice” trope. Uncle Iroh in Avatar the Last Airbender serves both as a father figure and martial arts teacher to young Zuko. In the Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi also takes on the father figure role in the absence of Daniel LaRusso’s own dad, simultaneously teaching his disciple the wisdom of Karate and life.

The father figure trope is here to stay, that’s for sure. The only question we must ask is: whose Daddy will Mr. Pascal play next?

The Combat Codes by Alexander Darwin is published on 15 June by Orbit priced £9.99

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.