Fantastic Fighting Fathers~ In Which Parenting and Gunslinging Go Hand-In-Hand

Greetings, my friends!

So, there’s this trope. It involves a man with a gun protecting a child, and it is one of my favorite things ever.

There is just something about a man giving all he has to make sure that someone small and vulnerable is safe/supported that makes me want to WEEP. Whether it’s his own child or a child he has taken under his wing because there is no one else there to protect them, it is a noble and praiseworthy thing.

So I’ve made a list of dads who fit this trope and I am now going to scream about them to you.

Roland from The Dark Tower

Is this the greatest movie ever? NO. But do I love Roland and Jake anyway? YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT.

Roland, the last gunslinger from an alternate dimension, becomes a surrogate father to Jake- a troubled boy from our world who has been dreaming of Roland’s world.

(We’re just going to pretend that description makes sense…)

This story is a very basic example of the trope without a whole lot of nuance, but I love it anyway. Somehow the way that Roland protects Jake just melts my heart.

(Especially THAT SCENE where he shoots the bad guy in the dark just by LISTENING. Why is that so cool?!)

Hawkeye from Avengers: Age of Ultron/Captain America: Civil War

Okay, so Hawkeye doesn’t have a gun, but his bow is as good as a gun any day.

The way that Hawkeye takes the twins under his wing (I did not intend that pun, I swear) is so endearing. They may be super-powered humans but they are still just kids really, and they need Hawkeye’s fatherly support and guidance. I especially love the way he gives pep talks to Wanda in both films.

And of course he is a great dad to his actual kids as well.

The Terminator from Terminator 2

He may be robot and a killing machine, but he’s also the best dad option that John has at this time.

These robot cases are always a bit squirrely because technically the robot is a robot and not actually capable of human thought/emotion, and thus not capable of being an actual dad. It’s the emotional projection that the human characters put on said robot that makes it so important and gives it what humanness it can have.

That makes sense, right?

The Terminator has been programmed to protect John, which is something his real dad should be doing (and would be doing if he wasn’t dead), so because it’s giving him support and security that is otherwise lacking, it is essentially filling the father role in his life. Since John is very much human, he emotionally attaches to the Terminator as a result of the role it’s playing in his life, even though he knows it’s a robot. I don’t know about you, but that kind of breaks my heart a little.

Saul from the Evil Genius Trilogy

I will be the first to admit that this series was NOT the greatest, but Saul is a spectacular example of the gunslinging dad trope. He is a police officer and fiercely protective of Cadel, even though Cadel doesn’t usually think he needs protection. Also Cadel’s father situation is severely messed up and he needs a solid man like Saul in his life, even if it takes him a while to figure that out.

Joe West from The Flash

Again, overall this show suffers greatly for quality, but the character of Joe West is one of its better points. His devotion to his daughter Iris and adopted son/son-in-law Barry is palpable, and even though I can’t really stand them I can wish them well for Joe’s sake.

Lee Abbot from A Quiet Place

This man isn’t generally seen with a gun, but he does have one, and he will use it if he needs to in order to protect his wife and children. He will do anything to make sure that his family is safe. In the world they’re living in, that’s going to be anything but easy.

This man loves his family so much. I just. Love him. I love them all.

Din Djarin from The Mandalorian

He is a reluctant dad, but once he takes on the task of protecting the child he takes it VERY SERIOUSLY. And though it may take him a while to admit it, he loves that little guy.

Din is a bounty hunter and his moral compass seems kind of sketchy, but he puts his own interest on hold to ensure the child’s safety. He will definitely shoot anyone who poses any kind of threat to his son- I mean, the child.

Yugo from The Promised Neverland

He is even more reluctant than the Mandalorian, and even acts as an anti-dad for a while, but he more than makes up for that once he starts taking his role seriously. Once he makes up his mind to protect those kids he PROTECTS THOSE KIDS.

(I’m not crying, are you crying?)

Jim Hopper from Stranger Things

When we first meet Hopper, he is a grieving father. He needs someone to love and protect. Like Saul and Joe he is a police officer, and protecting people is in his DNA.

Hopper’s relationship with Eleven is rocky, but they have a fierce bond that isn’t going away no matter how much they scream at each other and he would fight anything to protect her. Hopper looks after all of the kids in the show of course, but his relationship with El is what makes me love him so much.

Milligan from The Mysterious Benedict Society

Milligan doesn’t have an ordinary gun. He has a tranquilizer gun. And he’s the best.

Milligan is an extremely sad man: he has amnesia and consequently no memory of who he is. Mr. Benedict helped him, so now he’s helping Mr. Benedict. This brings four children, Reynie, Sticky, Kate and Constance, into his life, and the way that Milligan protects these kids is BEAUTIFUL.

The way he uses his tranquilizer gun is also beautiful.


There you have it. These dads are amazing and I love them to death. Especially Milligan. And Yugo. They’re all just…so amazing. Why do I have so many feelings?

Who are your favorite gunslinging dads? Does your heart melt when you see a man fighting to protect his children/someone-else’s-children-who-just-really-need-it? Do you ever love characters for the sake of a trope you’re a sucker for, even if the overall story isn’t of the highest quality? What is your favorite dad-related trope?

17 thoughts on “Fantastic Fighting Fathers~ In Which Parenting and Gunslinging Go Hand-In-Hand

  1. MILLIGAN. Yes I love that man so very very much. *hugs the book* *which she should really read again*

    I think, besides Milligan, the only one of these I’m truly acquainted with is Hawkeye. Who is fantastic indeed.

    Lovely post, Sponge!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Milligan deserves so much love! That story is so beautiful, and he contributes significantly to it. 🙂

      And Hawkeye! He has always been one of my favorite Avengers, for obvious reasons.

      Thank you muchly!


  2. Ahh yes, this one is great – that scene where the mandalorian fights the storm troopers holding baby Yoda in one hand is so golden!! Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m familiar with only a few of these examples, but the weapon-wielding father figure remains one of my favourite character types. I agree with Jan, that showdown scene in the first episode of the Mandalorian truly was epic. It irks me that I still haven’t seen anything past that one episode.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. If you are a fan of the trope, I would definitely recommend becoming acquainted with some of these gunslinging dads post-haste (ESPECIALLY Milligan because…I mean, he’s Milligan and that’s all that needs to be said. And Yugo because everyone needs to appreciate him, even if the anime thought he was unimportant enough to leave out ENTIRELY). Ah, The Mandalorian! Even though overall it wasn’t my favorite show, the relationship between the mandalorian and the child made it totally worth watching. I love them. 🙂


  4. Ahhh, I didn’t realize that I loved this trope, too, until I saw this post!!
    I KNEW Mando would be on here! Im acquainted with both him and Hawkeye and yes, I love them both.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know, right? It wasn’t until recently that I began to detect this pattern in these stories…but once I did I realized how much I adored this trope.
      Mando is such a clear choice. 😉 And Hawkeye too. They are both wonderful.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I LOVE THIS TROPE SO, SO MUCH. And although I know like, one of these dads (Milligan <3), this was a lot of fun to read. Because really, this trope is just THE BEST. And it’s one I write all the time too! I’m always sad when I think of a trope I love and can’t find it in my own stories, you know? But this one is everywhere. Currently I am writing about a guy with a bow (which is just as good in his case, as in Hawkeye’s) who is risking literally everything to protect a random little girl who needs it. And it brings me perilously near that undignified position of flailing over one’s own characters.

    It’s weird though because I know I’ve seen this trope multiple places (even if it isn’t the most common) but I can’t think of any examples? William Tell isn’t QUITE the same, but it is similar, and I do love the story of William Tell. And Huon in The Great and Terrible Quest is kinda similar but not a gunslinger….huh.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I KNOW. Isn’t it a fantastic trope? And Milligan is the the best to know if you only know one, so…

      I know what you mean, actually. I struggled to come up with dads for this post, and ended up resorting to some that either don’t quite fit or are from embarrassing, not-very-well-done things (*cough cough* The Flash). There are definitely more that I am just not thinking of, but I can’t for the life of me remember who they are.

      I confess I don’t actually know the story of William Tell. The only reason I know the name is from the William Tell Overture. Huon is great though! Not that I remember him all that well since it’s been ages since I read that book, but I remember liking him a lot. And he qualifies even if he doesn’t technically have a gun…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, William Tell was some Swiss guy, and the legend is that he was a great archer and he killed some tyrant for his country’s independence. But also he had a son and at one point the tyrant was like, you see that apple I just put on your son’s head? Shoot it, and I’ll let you and your son go free, but if you miss I’ll kill your son if your arrow hasn’t already done that. And then William Tell was an awesome archer and shot the apple right off his son’s head. It’s probably more of a legend than anything, but I think I read some novelization of his life or something as a little kid and that’s probably why I love him so much. The William Tell Overture is a good thing to know the name from, though. Good music.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. I had never thought of the gunslinger dad as a trope, but yeah, it is!! So many good ones on here. Mando definitely deserves on the list, although weird enough, I did not like the show much. Me and the characters just didn’t click.
    The Dark Tower sounds interesting, awhile back I heard that the story came from a poem before it got turned into a book. The poem was so different from what you described. Makes me curious! 😉
    Awe, Milligan!! Love him and Kate to death! Have you seen the Mysterious Benedict Series on Disney+? So far they are keeping fairly faithful to the book. Although they pronounce Reynie’s name wrong.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What a trope it is! I get you on not liking The Mandalorian much though. While I like the fact that Mando fits the trope, overall it wasn’t my favorite show either.

      I knew The Dark Tower was based on a book (which I have not read) but I didn’t know about the poem. That is cool. I do think I remember seeing that the movie adaption didn’t remain very faithful to the book, so maybe that’s why they sound so different. 😉

      The Mysterious Benedict Society is one of my favorite books! Milligan is amazing! As are the rest of the characters. No, I haven’t seen the Disney+ series yet, but I want to see it at some point. It looks somewhat promising, and I’ve heard mixed things about it.


  7. This post is SUCH A GEM!! Thank you, Story Sponge! I can’t believe that I missed it when you released it last year. (But then, June was kind of a hectic season for me xD.) I’m SOO happy that Sarah Seele linked me up to this one while the two of us where discussing favorite tropes on Goodreads. ❤
    I’ve seen/know of Hawkeye, Teminator 2, Lee Abbot (A QUIET PLACE, and that’s about it. And I 100% agree with you about them!! And this trope/post in general. Ahhh it’s only rather recently that I’ve actually begun recognizing the tropes that I like (turns out, there are so many things that I like without even identifying them in my life xD – which is what posts and discussion boards are for, right? 😉

    I feel like I need to go check out THE DARK TOWER movie now and read THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY. I’ve been hearing about the latter for quite some years, but never had the time?/push? to actually acquire a copy and read it for myself? But now, I actually feel like I should and SOON because of its exploration of the Gunslinger Dad trope.

    So, to answer your questions, my favorite gunslinger dad (other than what I mentioned above from your list) is Zero, from the City Between books by W. R. Gingell. His arc (and honestly, everyone’s – Pet, JinYeong, and Athelas) took time to develop and it’s absolutely brilliant but especially in Between Family (book 9 of 10) he goes all out on protecting Pet and her friends against this Hunger Games scenario in which only one is supposed to come out alive (only it’s worse since it’s the fae version). All of this despite the pain that it causes him due to his past (failures). I hope I’m not spoiling the whole thing for anyone. XD But yeah, the entire series is SO GOOD. I’d never have told you a year ago that urban fantasy (with a generous splattering of mystery and found family vibes/drama) would be something I’d wholeheartedly love – except Gingell’s unique twists and flips of the most common tropes within the genre are just … GENIUS. Books 1 and 2 start the series off a bit slow because the stage is merely being set but books 3 and 5 and the latter ones are astonishing and I still cannot believe how Gingell could taking everything up a notch so impressively and incrementally. She’s made it to my list of role model authors to learn from. So, yeah. Go read them. 😀 Methinks you’d like. ***nodding fervently***

    OF COURSE it makes my heart melt. Why else do you think I’m here?! XD Zero, one of the most powerful fae around, protecting Pet, who is an orphan whose parents were both murdered on the same night, along with her friends who were all orphans due to the fact that they have blood that would make then eligible to become the next King Behind and someone was out there to make sure that they don’t survive to explore that eligibility… yeah. I’m all in for it. He’s also a rather tragic/reluctant type who doesn’t speak… like hardly AT ALL for the first books until the latter ones due to his arc. (I was reading the series, and it’s like: WOW. Zero actually talks to Pet in this one, and EXPLAINS stuff to her, and actually shows that he’s FEELING something. ❤ You know it’s good when an author can create a character and not have him say much, but you still kinda know and understand him from what he’s NOT saying and how the the smallest of movements and how blue of his eyes changes shades as observed by our narrator, Pet, who may or may not be correct in her guesses/assumptions about everything and especially him. :D)

    Yes – I DO ever love characters for the sake of the trope that I’m a sucker for, regardless of the actual quality of the story as a whole. (But admittedly, it’s TENFOLD so much better when the actual story and plot and pacing and prose and all the other main and side characters and world-building are equally so well done. It gives me a feeling of being privileged to have found the story. <3) For some reason, probably due to my euphoria for City Between and Zero-Pet, I can’t recall any other gunslinger dads from lesser stories…? But the other tropes that I can think of that are my weakness are: found family, enemies-to-friends or lovers, and characters who don’t say much but feels greatly and deeply and would die for you but you may not even know. XD (Thanks to Sarah Seele, you can read a list here from Goodreads – I’ve adopted hers because it’s a good and true one for me as well. :D)

    Some specific romantic tropes that are on “my reader weakness” list that are not on the aforementioned link are: they’re stuck together (arranged marriages technically falls into this category, but those can get old quick and must be gloriously interesting and fun), beauty and the beast (because it’s only my favorite fairy tale ever from childhood), princess-bodyguard crush (my favorite example at this point in my life would be HEART OF SHADOW by Sarah K. L. Wilson – it’s an ongoing series but Wilson’s style/prose is a perfect balance between no-nonsense and elegance and so we have gem pieces like:

    I, Vargaard of Spineheights, made this soul vow. In your shadow may I dwell that your shadow I may be. Your sorrows I will borrow, your pain I will bear, the lifting of your head shall be my glory, and the light of your eyes my delight. To the last drop of my blood, I will defend you, screaming defiance into the depths. … If I fail in my vow, may curses fall on my head, and may my soul walk the howling roads beyond the veil.


    I don’t understand why ‘scream like a girl’ is considered an insult. Have you been to a childbed before?

    I have not.

    Many women scream in childbed. Scream with such power and might that they defy pain and bring into the world vibrant new life. There is power in their screams. Strength and defiance. They show that being afraid need not conquer you and that agony is not the end but a beginning.

    And I will hold onto you, Ilsaletta. I won’t let you face it alone. I will walk with you and through I may not touch you, my arms will shield you, and though I cannot carry you, I will carry your burdens. Though I cannot feed you, I will not let you go hungry. Sick or well, dying or vibrant, destitute or rich, beautiful or withered, innocent or drenched in blood – I will cling to you and guard you, I will honor you and lift you up.

    There are wedding vows less full.


    Back to my listing, let’s see: can’t live with them – can’t live without them, disguise (think: A Midsummer Night’s Dream xD, and a perfect more current example would be Rebecca Ross’s DREAMS LIE BENEATH), tortured hero/ine (because I like to see people suffer), and redemptive (because I like to see people change for the better <3).

    There’s no other trope that involves dads that I love more than this one. Period. 🙂

    P.S. I hope you don’t mind long comments. 😉 For some reason after I finished typing this up I feel like I should have just made a whole post and linked it to here xD Perhaps I shall… considering how much I went off on rabbit trails…o.O

    Also – I wanted to let you know that your writing voice practically “jumps out of the page” to me. It feels so vibrant and alive and real and I love it so much. ❤ It’s always so lovely to read your posts/lists! I’m sorry to have been neglecting reading/commenting – one of my 2022 new goals is to read and comment on at least 5 posts per week, and make up when needed. So far I’ve been doing okay with it, and I’m really looking forward reading/catching up more in the blogsphere! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I am pleased to hear that you enjoyed it. And I greatly enjoy reading long comments. 🙂

      Ah, The Mysterious Benedict Society is SO GOOD. Though at this point it might be over-hyped for you. Nevertheless, you should read it because it’s wonderful and it’s full of lovely characters, Milligan being but one.

      The City Between books do sound interesting! I shall have to look into them further. I mean, if it includes the gun-slinging dad trope I kind of have to.

      So many tropes! I think redemptive tropes have to be my favorite. I mean, what’s not to love and get wall weepy over when a solid redemption story is involved??

      Thank you again!

      Liked by 1 person

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