Bumbling Dad
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Basic Information

There is a strong cultural tradition of a man being the King of his Castle; the Patriarch of the Clan; the Wise and Benevolent Authority Figure; the One Who Wears the Pants. Unfortunately, this is not terribly funny.

In Sitcoms, the father is more likely to be a Bumbling Dad, clumsy and clueless. He injures himself when doing the most basic home repair. He lets his wife and kids, who are much smarter, push him around. He has no idea what's going on. Played honestly, this comes from a fallible and human man trying to live up to being a Paragon of Fatherhood and falling short. Played for comedy, the guy has no idea he's not a Paragon and keeps pretending anyway.

Another reason for this could be that the father is seen from the point of view of his children, and once the children become old enough to be aware of his flaws, those flaws seem more evident.

The high prevalence of this trope in western media would appear to be a form of instutionalised misandry and part of the generalised attack on family, masculinity and gender roles in general that became part of progressive doctrine in the mid twentieth century. This will normally be lampshaded by a significant double standard in which the mother of the family is treated as hypercompetent - or at least, a person whose faults and mistakes are not highlighted as grounds for mockery. Still more pernicious is the image of the semi-detatched father who is presented as at best dispensable and, just as often, a nuisance to his family.


Game and Story Use

  • This is a comedy type. Although introducing a Bumbling Dad NPC might add a touch of humor to an otherwise serious setting, he is more at home in a silly campaign.
  • Fathers are usually background NPCs anyway. Making him a bumbler could explain why his offspring are adventuring and he isn't.
  • A better use of the trope could be to make his highly competent is some areas, but a klutz in others.
    • "Larry, you are one of the most brilliant hyperphysicists on the planet! How come you can't fix a crummy lawnmower?"
  • This trope is so prevalent in modern media that a competent father figure is almost a subversion by now.
    • Although such a subversion will likely only appear to undermine the masculinity of a male lead - for example, not only is the leading male a "bumbling dad", but he is not even the man his father was - a cue for more ridicule and possibly an adultery plot for his wife.
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