Top-FiveLOGO3Top Five Parents in Media

Top Five is a show where the hosts categorize, rank, compare, and stratify everything… from cars to gadgets to people and movies. From stuff that is hot, and things that are not nearly as interesting – it’s Top Five.

This week, who are the best parents in all of media!? We answer that question with fantastic examples.

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Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


  1. This is a rough one. I got 4/5 fairly quickly but have been struggling to think up a fifth for literally 2 hours. Well let’s get started and see if I can find a fifth before I’m done. Fair warning I’m going to have to go into some pretty deep spoilers on some of these, I’ll list the property at the front so you can skip it if you don’t want spoilers for it.

    5: Nope. Didn’t happen. Enjoy my top 4!

    4: Dragonball: This ridiculously long running series, 15 long seasons, is chocked full of terrible parents. And while my number 4 may not be the greatest parent in any universe, but he’s the best father in his universe. I’m not talking about the serially dead/neglectful Goku, but rather his rival Vegeta. Vegeta goes through some of the most extreme character growth of the series (quite the feat for a series that spans 3 generations) moving from spoiler brat to conquer to agent of vengeance to hero to devoted father. In season 8 Vegeta becomes romantically entangled with Bulma ultimately getting married and having two children, Trunks and Bra. For his family, he gives up fighting, wears the most embarrassing pink shit, learns to drive, grows a bizarre porn-stache, and becomes a full time parent. Reminder this is a guy who can destroy worlds with his bare hands, living in a world where planetary annihilation is oddly common. Even when trouble rears it’s head again in season 14, he is hesitant to rejoin the adventure instead leaving it in the hands of others. Oh course he gets mind controlled (along with Bulma) in the final season into becoming a villain again, but you can’t hold that against him.

    3: Super Mario Bros: My number 3 is not only the parent in his world, he may be the only one. Bowser himself is, objectively, an amazing single dad. Sure he’s a magnomanical wizard/scientist/dragon king bent on global domination, but he also has adopted 9 orphans. Now you may be saying surely these children were a part of some scheme, but no he raises them as best he can. We learn in Baby Mario that Bowser was abandoned by his parents at a very young age, as an adult it seems he strives to do better. Evil? Yes. A bad dad? No. He quite frankly spoils his children, giving them domain over most of his kingdoms, showering them with magical devices, and encouraging them to express their own uniquenesses.

    2) Wakfu: Wakfu actually has two sets of fantastic parents in it but I’m limiting myself to one per series. Tristepin de Percedal, Chevalier of Sallygrove (the most confusingly named character I know due to translation choices) and Evangelyne become romantically entangled in the second season, with the reveal that Evangelyne is pregnant in the season finale. Season 3 picks up years later, where we find both of them have settled in to a semi-domestic life with their two small children. Points to the series for inverting the children are identical to same gendered parent trope. They are both surprisingly good parents, encouraging and protecting, but not sheltering. Later they discover that Tristepin is a god, and must reclaim his divine powers and save the world, only to then give it all up to be with his family.

    1) Toradora: Huge spoilers for the series here, you have been warned. Takasu Yasuko, Ryuji’s mom, is a surprisingly amazing character. Yasuko starts out as total comic relief, but as the series progresses we learn so much more about her. She’s a single mom, a former teen mother (at 15!), and a high school dropout, doing literally everything she can to give her son a better life, despite her own failings. Yasuko is as far from the typical “anime mom” trope as you can get. She’s loud, rambunctious, seemingly irresponsible, and an air head. She’s not smart or skilled at much. All she really is is pretty and determined. That said, she has worked very hard at as many jobs as she can to put food on the table and a roof over their head, with literally no outside support. She ran away from home at 15 when she learned she was pregnant, and her boyfriend skipped out, never reconciling with her parents until near the very end of the series. Yasuko is very supportive, loving, and always positive. Parental conflict is a mainstay of the romantic comedy anime genre, but in this case there is almost none. At least on Ryuji’s side.

  2. I really did like this episode, and I think my picks are for similar reasons.

    5) The parents from Family Ties – I watched a lot of sitcoms growing up, and they had parents all over the spectrum of competancy, but on reflection what I liked about this show was that Mr. and Mrs. Keaton might have had radically different political and other opinions from their kids, but they never let it get in the way of loving each other as a family or treating each other with respect.

    4) Greg Universe as well – I was yelling this at my car radio until the end where Matthew finally saved the day and pulled it out. I cna’t add much to his analysis, but it is amazing how well Greg deals with what is essentially a blended family with his Wife’s Ex, all the time supporting his son Steven in essentially having to grow away from his human background and replace his wife. He’s a really nice guy, but it is not just “Greg is cool with everything,” you see real moments where he is scared for Steven, sad because he misses Rose, petulant because he isn’t seeing Steven or being taken seriously by the Gems. But, he still comes through in the end despite his misgivings.

    3) Tim and Jill Taylor from Home Improvement. Like I said, lots of sitcoms, but this one stands out because of the difference in how they handle problems. Tim not understanding his wife, or his actor son, or similar is played up for laughs as first. But, ultimately you see Tim articulate why he doesn’t understand, he then invariably ASKS FOR HELP from a mentor or friend and gets a new level of understanding. Much more complex that the throwaway “Well, I guess I love you guys so I’ll change” solution in other shows. The show was about Tim, but Jill does have few moments like that as well. I also really liked an episode where one son was scared about sleeping in the basement, so Tim went down and explained all the weird noises to him – removing fear with knowledge!

    2) Bob and Helen Parr from the Incredibles. This is some amazing character growth, and I think the reason the movie is successful is that it is all built on that dinner table argument scene. The whole rest of the movie is identifying themselves as part of a family, evolved from the old superheroes they used to be. In the whole rescue mission on the Island, you see both of them rebuidling the trust in each other, giving wisdom to their kids about philosophy of heroism and battle tactics, and ultimately encouraging their kids to be the superheroes they know they can be.

    1) The father from Life is Beautiful. This movie destroyed me, not sure if I can watch it more than once. Seeing the father first as the suitor as he tires to woo his wife, and then as the protector during the concentration camp. He exerts his every fiber of will and skill to protect his son. I only hope I could be that strong and adaptable in a similar situation…

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