Top 10 Vengeful Fathers

It might be true to say there is nothing more dangerous than a woman scorned but perhaps these vengeful fathers would give that statement a run for its money.

The revenge film has been a popular theme in Hollywood in what seems like forever. The 70s gave us pictures like Death Wish, Get Carter, The Outlaw Josey Wales (just to name a few). And then you get into the father revenge film and vigilantism. They say there is nothing more dangerous than a woman scorned but a father avenging his child is pretty darn close. Here’s a list of ten fathers who will go to hell and back to avenge the loss of a child.

See also: Top 10 Films About The Oppressed Taking Their Revenge | Top 10 Films About Vengeful Vigilantes

10. Sgt Murtaugh

Lethal Weapon (1986)

Lethal Weapon, Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Comedy, Buddy, Cop, 1980s,

Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Murtaugh (Danny Glover) have uncovered a secret heroine distribution ring in Los Angeles. When they get too close to shutting it down, the bad guys not only try to kill them, but they make the mistake of messing with Murtaugh’s family by kidnapping his teenage daughter, Rhiane. Murtaugh takes his revenge by muttering, “No way you live, no way.” He then shoots the driver of the getaway car and thus causes McAllister to get side swiped by a bus, turning the car onto its roof and then he dies in a fiery explosion as his bag full of grenades detonates and goes kaboom.

9. Kelly Dover

Prisoners (2013)

Prisoners - Top 10 Films

Kelly Dover, played by Hugh Jackman, faces a parent’s worst nightmare when his six-year-old daughter and her friend go missing. There is one small lead. A motor home was spotted somewhere near where the girls disappeared. The driver is arrested but a lack of evidence forces the police to release him. Dover is desperate to find his daughter and he takes matters into is own hands. He’s convinced that the driver is guilty so he kidnaps him, confines him and tortures him. Prisoners is a tough film to watch for several reasons. One, you are not sure if the suspect is guilty or not but at the same time, you begrudgingly understand why Dover is doing what he is doing.

8. Maximus

Gladiator (2000)


My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next. Russell Crowe plays the subjugated and severely pissed off Maximus. He does get his revenge. But it comes at a huge cost.

7. The Dad

The Last House On The Left (1972)

The Last House on the Left

When his daughter and her friend are tortured and killed in the most gruesome ways possible, the dad and his wife extract their revenge in many Draconian ways. Electrocution and a chainsaw for starters. The great thing about low budget 70s horror is that there were no props used. This is a real chainsaw the actor is using to chase down the other actor. It adds much realism to the film.

6. The Dad

The Virgin Spring (1960)

The Virgin Spring

This is the film that The Last House on the Left was based on. It takes place in medieval Sweden. Karin goes out to deliver some candles and is raped and murdered by three local herdsmen. The trio then take shelter, unknowingly, at the girl’s parents. The father discovers what has happened and of course takes revenge by gruesomely killing the three murderers. This is an incredibly violent film for its time. Director Ingmar Bergman called this film an aberration but it is one of the defining films of his career.

5. Harry Tasker

True Lies (1994)

Juno Skinner (Tia Carrere, True Lies, 1994)

Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a spy in one life and a devoted husband and father in another life. When those two worlds collide, the bad guys get to him by going after his wife and daughter. Bad idea. Tasker kills hundreds of the bad guys, commandeers a military jet and then eventually gets off one of his patented one liners (“You’re fired!”) before disposing of the main villain by shooting him on a missile into the side of a building.

4. Roy

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning

Roy is a paramedic. When he is called to a home for troubled youth, he is burdened with the task of taking his dead son away. He was chopped up into pieces by one of the less than stable youths who presides there. Roy had given up his son, Joey, years before. No one knew Roy had a son. This causes Roy to disguise himself as Jason Voorhees and go on a killing spree. Seems a little harsh, but this is the Friday the 13th franchise.

3. Darth Vader

Return Of The Jedi (1983)

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

“No. I am your father!” We all shuttered and cried out in shock and protest in 1980 when Darth Vader tells farm boy Luke Skywalker the horrible truth. Luke later learns that to save the galaxy and become a Jedi, he will have to face his father one more time. He feels there is good in him and is convinced his father will turn to the good side. Luke is wrong. But when he is being killed by the Emperor, Darth Vader can’t bear to watch his son die. He fulfils his prophecy and brings balance to the force by picking the Emperor up and heaving him to his death.

2. Brian Mills

Taken (2008)


“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom I can tell you I don’t have any money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills that I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now that will be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you, but if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you.” So is one of the most famous speeches in film history. By now you know the movie and what happens. Mills overturns half of Europe looking for his daughter who was kidnapped by a human trafficking group.

1. John Matrix

Commando (1985)


John Matrix eats green berets for breakfast and he will kill hundreds of scum-bags to get his daughter back. The plot of this film is clearly secondary. It is is nothing more than an excuse to see Arnold Schwarzenegger perpetually flex his muscles while killing bad guys every five minutes. It’s estimated that Matrix kills 81 people in the film. He drops people off cliffs, beats them to death in hotels, shoots them in a mall, hacks them to pieces with a machete, scalps them with blades from a shed, uses machine guns, hand guns, grenades, rocket launchers, knives and his bare hands. John Matrix gets his daughter Jenny back in the end and the bodies are strewn all over California.

Written by Dan Grant

Your turn: what are your fave vengeful father films?

See also: Top 10 Films About The Oppressed Taking Their Revenge | Top 10 Films About Vengeful Vigilantes

About the Author
Dan Grant is an author and horror film fan from Canada. His first novel Terrified and Defenseless is now available for e-download from Amazon. Follow Dan on Twitter @baumer72.

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  1. Avatar
    David Spencer Reply

    Nice selection of films. I’d include Death Wish in the top 10 actually.

  2. Avatar
    Alan Reply

    Love Prisoners. You’re right, despite his brutality you can understand his anger. Great film.

  3. Avatar
    Rory Fish Reply

    I love that inclusion of Friday the 13th – that’s a nice alternative selection! 🙂

    Not going to argue with Commando at no.1.

  4. Avatar
    Dan Grant Reply

    Can’t believe I left Death Wish off the list. Stupid on my part.

    And thanks Rory. Roy from Friday the 13th V always gets a chuckle from me.

  5. Avatar
    Mark Fraser Reply

    Well, if you’re going to include Death Wish you may as well have Death Wish II on the list as Kersey’s daughter does actually get killed in that one.

    Law Abiding Citizen comes to mind – that is until it gets really silly.

    Another consideration would be The Deadly Trackers, one of those early 1970s anti-westerns in which Richard Harris hunts down Rod Taylor’s gang of bank robbers after they kill his son. And on the subject of sibling kidnapping, The Last Hard Men with Charlton Heston and James Coburn is another contender.

    Then there’s The Crossing Guard, where Nicholson as the vengeful father gives a heart wrenching performance.

    Fun list BTW, although for some reason I disagree with the Star Wars one.

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