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Peter And Lois Griffin – ‘Family Guy’

Photo: Fox

To sum up the parenting style of Family Guy‘s Peter Griffin, look no further than the patriarch’s own words: “I just hate being around the kids.”

Peter would rather hang out with his drinking buddies than his family, and when he is around his three kids, he’s hardly a paragon of virtue. Lois Griffin, meanwhile, has admitted that she never wanted to be a mother, and often seems detached from her children’s problems. The Griffins’ marriage is extremely dysfunctional: Peter has a drinking problem, and Lois has not only cheated on him multiple times but also compels him to make love against his will on several occasions.

If the Griffins were a real-life couple, Child Protective Services would have come banging on their door years ago. The main target of their mistreatment is their oldest child, Meg, whom they tried to abandon as an infant by leaving her at a fire station. Meg has been fired at by her father and had her existence temporarily erased by God (at Peter’s request). At one point, her mother gives her some pills and a Sylvia Plath novel, then walks away saying, “Whatever happens, happens” – in response to Meg being upset about not being invited to a party.

Peter and Lois don’t treat their sons Chris and Stewie much better, which could explain why Stewie has attempted to off his mother more than once. Lois refers to Chris and Stewie as “dummy and big head,” and deliberately makes Chris the target of hazing on his first day of high school. Peter gives his toddler son steroids because he is embarrassed when Stewie gets beaten up by a little girl; he tries to marry Chris in order to take his grandfather’s inheritance; and neither parent seems to notice or care that Stewie keeps getting drunk.

The Griffins actually had four kids, but Peter Jr. did not survive his father’s ignorance.

Photo: Disney Channel

It’s not a good sign when neither of your parents bother to show up for your birth (how is that even possible?). But that’s what happens to Phineas and Ferb’s Heinz Doofenschmirtz. Although Mr. and Mrs. Doofenschmirtz dote on their younger son Roger, they neglect and humiliate Heinz. They even go as far as disowning him, leaving Heinz to be raised by a pack of wild ocelots.

Of course, things aren’t any better when he does live with his parents. Mrs. Doofenschmirtz is so sure that her second child is going to be a girl that, when it turns out to be a boy (Roger), she makes Heinz wear the dresses she has made. When Mr. Doofenschmirtz wins a puppy in a poker game, he names the dog “Only Son” and says it’s like the son he never had.

When the family has their lawn gnome repossessed, Mr. and Mrs. Doofenschmirtz force Heinz to take its place. The kid isn’t allowed to move, eat, or sleep, and he’s so lonely that his only friend is a balloon named Balloony. When Balloony flies off one night, Mr. Doofenschmirtz’s strict no-moving policy means Heinz can’t even try to retrieve it.

With parents like Mr. and Mrs. Doofenschmirtz, is it surprising that Heinz grows up to be a mad (albeit bumbling) scientist determined to take over the world?

Lady Tremaine – ‘Cinderella’
Photo: RKO Radio Pictures

Cinderella’s villainess is cruel, manipulative, and a major narcissist. Lady Tremaine’s actions are driven by her jealousy of others (especially her beautiful, sweet stepdaughter) and her need for power and prestige. She is never physically aggressive towards her stepdaughter; instead, she treats Cinderella like a servant in her own house and never gives her any kind of affection.

She doesn’t treat her own daughters much better, even though she spoils them in the hope that she can mold them in her own image. Lady Tremaine expects total obedience from Anastasia and Drizella, and can be quite nasty to them when they don’t give in to her. She clearly doesn’t care about her daughters’ happiness; she simply wants to marry them off to men of noble blood or those who are otherwise high on the social ladder.

Lady Tremaine is often quite subtle in her manipulation of both Cinderella and her own daughters, which results in Anastasia and/or Drizella doing her dirty work for her. When Lady Tremaine points out that Cinderella has used some of Drizella’s beads and one of Anastasia’s sashes to make a gown for the ball, her daughters angrily rip the dress to shreds, resulting in Lady Tremaine achieving her goal (Cinderella being unable to attend the ball because she has no suitable gown) without appearing to have treated her stepdaughter cruelly. Instead, her daughters come off as the villains.

Of course, she gets her comeuppance when she is unable to stop Cinderella from trying on the glass slipper and getting her “happily ever after” with Prince Charming. She does try her best to do so, though, by locking Cinderella in her tower room.

Photo: Nickelodeon

It’s a good thing The Fairly Oddparents Timmy Turner has fairy godparents who care about him, because his real parents are self-centered, irresponsible, and constantly neglecting their young son. Mr. and Mrs. Turner are so oblivious that they have no clue Timmy even has fairy godparents – or magical powers that constantly put him in danger.

Mr. and Mrs. Turner are hardly ever home, preferring to go out and have a good time while they leave Timmy in the care of the evilest babysitter ever, Vicky. The Turners must not bother to vet their sitters, because Vicky constantly mistreats Timmy. At one point, they even hire actual demons to babysit him. As a way to try and get his parents to spend time with him, Timmy even gets a legal document drawn up that says his parents can’t leave him with a babysitter on Saturdays. Instead of honoring the agreement, his parents use it as a fish wrap.

Timmy is clearly an unwanted child. When he accidentally breaks his father’s dream box, Mr. Turner basically tells him not to worry about it because his dreams were shattered years ago by the birth of his son. His mother wishes she’d given birth to a different son. They leave him behind when they go on vacation, his mother uses his college fund to buy things for herself, and they punish Timmy for things that aren’t his fault – such as when Vicky keys their car. They always act like the kid is nothing more than an inconvenience to them.

Photo: Comedy Central

Of all the bad parents in South Park, Stephen and Linda Stotch may be the worst. Even if they didn’t have a kid, they’d be a dysfunctional couple; Stephen continually sneaks out to hook up with other men, and Linda might be mentally unstable. When she learns about her husband’s secret lifestyle, her response is to pack her son in the car and drive it into the river. The couple then files a police report claiming that Butters has been kidnapped, and when the boy returns home after surviving his mother’s attempt to off him, the Stotches take him for a demon spawn and chain him up in their basement. But hey, at least they feed him… with the remains of a woman that Mr. Stotch slays.

Although they have been shown to occasionally care about Butters, neither Mr. nor Mrs. Stotch ever accepts responsibility for what happens to their son. Stephen convinces his wife that it isn’t their fault that Butters is beaten up by a bully right outside their house – even though he refuses to let his frantic son back into the house to escape a pummeling. And when Butters inadvertently causes problems in the neighborhood, Stephen dismisses the idea that he and Linda’s bad parenting is the reason why their son gets in so much trouble.

In fact, Mr. Stotch claims he and his wife are “awesome” parents.

Photo: Nickelodeon

“Big Bob” and Miriam Pataki are the worst parents on Hey Arnold! They clearly favor their older daughter Olga over their younger, less accomplished daughter Helga. While Olga’s trophies line the walls of Big Bob’s den, Mr. Pataki barely acknowledges his younger daughter, and does not get involved in her life unless it benefits him in some way. He also has a tendency to call Helga by her sister’s name. The Patakis don’t even take Helga to her first day of preschool, instead choosing to watch Olga play the piano. The young girl has a huge inferiority complex and takes out her anger on her classmates, becoming a bully to compensate for her parents’ neglect.

Most of the time, Bob appears to be more concerned about his business and being the “Beeper King” than he is about his family. Mrs. Pataki is a heavy drinker (she sure loves her “smoothies”) who spends most of her time passed out or moping around the house.

Of course, the Patakis are completely unaware that Olga hates being smothered by their attention. She tells Helga that she “hates performing for [their parents] like a little wind-up doll,” and says Helga should be happy that their parents barely know she is alive. They also have no clue that Helga is miserable. When the girl reluctantly sees a child psychologist, she says, “Nobody in my house even knows I exist. They never listen to me. I think I’d go crazy if it wasn’t for [Arnold].”

There’s something wrong if a child feels like her parents aren’t aware of her existence and the only person she can count on for support is another kid – who doesn’t even know about her feelings!

Photo: FX

Archer’s Malory Archer is a former spy who used to head the International Secret Intelligence Service (ISIS). A domineering, self-centered lush who almost always has a drink in her hand, she is so amoral that she not only stages a hit on a UN official in order to secure a government contract, but also fakes a bomb threat just to get a suite on an airship.

Malory also exhibits signs of prejudice. She pulls her son out of one school because an employee is gay, and refuses to negotiate a ransom payment for her operative Ray Gillette (a gay character) when she’s otherwise willing to pay ransoms for her other kidnapped employees. Although she denies being prejudiced, she seems unaware of how she insults Lara, her son’s African American girlfriend and mother of his child, when she offers to pay thousands of dollars to have the baby baptized in a white church.

Malory’s relationship with her only child, Sterling, is very dysfunctional. She calls her son a “vain, selfish, lying, and quite possibly alcoholic man-whore,” and has never been sure who his father is. She gave birth to Sterling while on assignment for the OSS and abandoned him during WWII, leaving him to be raised by Woodhouse. She later sent Sterling to boarding school for 15 years, and one Christmas left him stranded at a police station because she hadn’t bothered to tell him she had moved.

Malory is also physically aggressive towards her son, and even beats him with a ping-pong paddle at one point. And because she’s his boss, she’s able to keep him dependent on her, even as an adult.

Photo: Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)

Caillou’s Doris and Boris are very perky people. Too perky, considering how whiny their son is. They’re also very permissive. Their parenting skills consist of spoiling their son rotten and never punishing him. Caillou throws a tantrum whenever he doesn’t like something or doesn’t get his way, and his parents just let him get away with this behavior.

When the boy covers the kitchen floor with mud, does his daddy punish him? Of course not. Instead, he offers to take Caillou to the library, leaving mommy to clean up the mess. When Caillou disobeys the instructions on how to care for his friend’s pet hamster (he leaves the cage open) and they have to flip the house upside down looking for it, all his parents say when the boy finally coaxes the hamster out of its hiding place is, “Good job, Caillou.”

In addition to being way too permissive with their son, Doris and Boris also put their daughter in harm’s way. After Caillou comes down with chickenpox, they don’t keep him away from his little sister, which results in Rosie getting chickenpox, as well. And while they make the occasional attempt to get Caillou to share with his sister, in general they come off as very unconcerned about how poorly he treats her.

Photo: Nickelodeon

Many of the adults on Rugrats are bad parents, and Drew and Charlotte Pickles are no different. They are busy, successful people – he’s an accountant, she’s the CEO of a corporation – but they’re also clearly workaholics who can’t balance their personal and professional lives.

Though they love their only child Angelica, the Pickles are overly permissive and rarely punish her – no matter what she does. They also shower her with toys to make up for the fact that they don’t spend a lot of time with her. Angelica, as a result, is a self-centered little girl who has never really been taught the difference between right and wrong. She thinks it’s okay to bully the babies and throws tantrums when she doesn’t get her way.

Of the two parents, Charlotte, who is strong and self-assertive in her business dealings, is the sterner one, while Drew is pretty much a pushover when it comes to dealing with his daughter. On the rare occasions that he does punish her, he tends to yell. The two can be oblivious to Angelica’s feelings, such as when they believe they’re having another baby and become so caught up in the planning that they ignore their daughter and never see how upset she is. When Drew sends Angelica to her room and refuses to accept her apology after she trashes his office, neither parent realizes she’s gone.

Photo: Cartoon Network

There are a lot of bad parents in the cartoon world, but how many of them are actually interdimensional demons who feed off the nightmares of children? On Teen Titans Go!, Raven’s estranged father is the team’s biggest and most powerful enemy. In order to take down the Teen Titans and conquer the world, Trigon is determined to get his half-demon, half-human daughter to become as evil as he is. Her refusal to join in his plans results in many fights between father and daughter (along with the other Titans).

When Trigon first appears in DC’s The New Teen Titans comics, he is evil incarnate. In Teen Titans Go!, he’s still evil and wants to conquer the world, but he can also be charming and may really believe that Raven embracing her demon half to end the universe is what’s best for her. He truly doesn’t understand why she doesn’t want to be evil.

Trigon can be very manipulative, both with his daughter and the other members of her team. He befriends the other Teen Titans so that they will use peer pressure to force Raven to join forces with him. When Raven claims she is “nean” (half-nice and half-mean), he puts a spell on her that makes her have to be nice – in the hopes that it will make her see that she has to decide whether she will be a nice person or a mean one. He invades her brain in an attempt to make her go mad.

Whenever Trigon is around, Raven struggles to conquer her demon side and resist the temptation to join forces with her father. Even when Raven and the Teen Titans defeat Trigon, she knows he’s never gone for good. As he reminds her, he’ll always return for Thanksgiving.

Photo: Cartoon Network

In the pilot episode of Cow and Chicken, “No Smoking,” it’s revealed that Mom and Dad have no upper halves at all. In subsequent episodes, their blank upper halves are never seen on screen, so it’s a matter of some debate as to whether they have torsos, arms, or even heads – though the surreal show drops many, many hints that Mom and Dad are nothing but sentient pairs of legs. They use their feet as if they were hands, for example, and it’s revealed in “Cow and Chicken Reclining” that Cow built torsos for her parents as a “science project.”

However, despite having no faces, arms or torsos, Mom and Dad are really happy. They laugh hysterically at the smallest things, and may, in fact, be nuts. Although they’re happy, Mom and Dad are not so observant (possibly due to their lack of eyes). They never seem to get wise to the fact that the Red Guy is always trying to scam Cow and Chicken and/or put them in some sort of danger.

These parents’ ideas never seem to be very rational (again, probably because they lack brains). They have no problem going off on a long vacation and leaving their 10-year-old son in charge of his younger sister. Instead of being happy that their kids are not afraid of the dark, they hire a doctor (the Red Guy in disguise) to try and scare them. One time, they impulsively decide that Cow and Chicken should join the circus, so they just drop the kids off at one and leave. And when they decide to go to Oregon to search for headhunters – their idea of a fun family vacation – they do nothing to help their son when he ends up getting chased by said headhunters.

Photo: FOX

In The Simpsons’ Season 3 episode, “Saturdays of Thunder,” Homer Simpson admits, “I don’t know jack about my boy. I’m a bad father.”

Over the course of 30 seasons, Homer Simpson strangles his son dozens of times. And what does Bart do to incur his father’s wrath? He cheats at Monopoly, fools his dad with a fake radio announcement, and knocks over a bottle of hair growth serum, among other innocuous offenses. When Homer isn’t being physically hostile, he’s a lazy drunk with little time for his daughters Lisa and Maggie. In one scene, he’s so busy strangling Bart that he doesn’t even hear Lisa say “Dada.”

Marge is supposed to be the voice of reason in the family, but she isn’t always a good caretaker. At one point, she finds herself behind bars for letting Bart go to the park unsupervised. When she goes to the Springfield Casino to do some gambling, she takes baby Maggie with her. She can also be quite hypocritical, such as when she secretly keeps her husband’s piece for herself after shaming him into getting rid of it. Worst of all, she enables her husband’s mistreatment and neglect of their children.

Photo: Nickelodeon

Dib and Gaz’s dad on Invader Zim is a busy guy, okay? Professor Membrane is a famous scientist, and the world needs his help! He is renowned for his contributions to humanity, making breakthroughs in every field, from genetics and neuroscience to disease research and engineering. Some of his most notable inventions include the hover helmet, the Perpetual Energy Generator (which is never put into use due to heckling from the crowd), and Super Toast.

So what if he’s not home all that much? At least he can keep tabs on his kids with that floating monitor of his. And sure, he’s failed to recognize his children on occasion – and the messages he sends them aren’t just pre-recorded, they are often woefully out of date – but he does love them and tries to be supportive, sort of.

For example: Professor Membrane doesn’t believe in the paranormal and prefers his son focus on “real science,” but since he believes his son’s obsession with it is just a phase (or, as he calls it, “temporary insanity”), he lets Dib do more or less as he pleases. When he is home (he makes it a point to spend one night a year plus Christmas with his kids), his daughter Gaz likes to spend time with him down in his lab.

There’s never any mention of Gaz and Dib’s mother, so the presumption is that Professor Membrane is a single dad. He puts science in front of his kids; in fact, he’ll do anything for science, no matter how morally questionable, such as detaining his daughter and turning her into a media freak. And because he’s rarely home, he’s unaware of things like Dib being bulled in school. But while he’s an absentee father, he does care. When Zim sends rubber piggies back in time to ruin Dib’s childhood, his father builds the MegaBoy 3000 to save his life.

Buck Cluck – ‘Chicken Little’
Photo: Buena Vista Pictures

Buck Cluck is not a loving, supportive father. In fact, he is embarrassed by his cute little son, and refuses to believe Chicken Little when he claims the sky is falling. Instead, Buck tells him to lay low and not do anything to draw attention to himself. The widowed father cares way too much about what other people think about his own image, and does nothing to keep his young son from being bullied by the townspeople.

Chicken Little wants to make his dad proud of him and decides to go out for the baseball team. A former baseball star himself, Buck does everything he can to try and talk his son out of trying out for the team – even suggesting he take up chess instead. Chicken Little makes the team, and when he plays well, suddenly Buck is proud of the boy – because everyone else accepts him. However, Buck quickly changes his attitude when Chicken Little tries to warn the town about an impending alien invasion.

Buck and the rest of the townspeople refuse to believe Chicken Little and make the boy an outcast again. It’s not until he sees the aliens for himself that Buck believes what his son has been trying to tell him.

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