Bad Dads In Christmas Movies: A Brief Retrospective

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Most holiday movies we come back to year after year share a lot of the same tropes—festive music, chaotic family dinners, an obstacle or misunderstanding that’s ultimately overcome in order to bring family and loved ones closer together just in time for the holiday—but one of the most prevalent seems to be bad parenting. Particularly from the dads, and generally manifested as unexplained fits of disproportionate rage, or utter negligence and absenteeism. To put it more simply: if Clark Griswold is the one who comes out looking comparatively on top of it, the situation isn’t good. It’s unclear when or why exactly this became such a thing (though one could argue that with his brief but terrifying freakout, Jimmy Stewart’s character in It’s a Wonderful Life is an early prototype), but if you look for the Bad Dad, his presence (or glaring absence!) is felt in almost every classic holiday movie. Here are just a few.


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