Characters who, while trying to do the right thing, put their kids through hell?

I bought a couple of the early seasons of Supernatural on Black Friday, and finished rewatching season one yesterday. During one of the episodes with flashbacks to lil Dean and lil Sam it occurred to me that there are probably a lot of characters like John Winchester in the realms of fantasy/horror/sci-fi*, who try to do the right thing in a fight against a tangible evil but end up giving their kids a hellish childhood in the process. I think this is why so many urban fantasy heroines refuse to have kids, because if they did…

So, besides Supernatural, what book, tv show, movie, and comics can we think of where one or both parents being one of the “good guys” leads to unsettled and dangerous childhoods for their offspring?

  • I’m sure there are even more in historical or literary fiction, but I’d like to narrow the scope to parents fighting the sort of evils we don’t encounter every day.

Dr Clark Savage Senior made his sone into a “superman”. And that can’t be comfortable.

Rusty Venture from The Venture Brothers, and in turn his own father are just about the worst fathers you can imagine. They are a pastiche of Johnny Quest and Doc Savage style scientist adventurer characters and live in a sci fi/fantasy universe.

They consider themselves good, or at least lawful compared to the mad scientists and super villains they face.

In a kind of weird way Sarah Conner from The Terminator, John is going to have…a rather interesting childhood that isn’t much fun. He will need that training however later on to survive and save humanity so…

All those parents on the ST:TNG Enterprise. How many times has that ship lost huge numbers of it’s crew, or been in imminent danger of being eaten/infected/exploded into component atoms/absorbed into the Borg collective?

I think most of the examples people come up with will have the parents rationalize that it’s for the greater good.

Two words: Ned Stark.

It’s almost the premise of Malcolm in the Middle.

That crazy Mom is trying to do what is right, but drives almost everyone crazy.

Yeah, but she’s not fighting evil, and that show is not fantasy, horror, or scifi.

The dad from A Boy Named Sue.

Oh so much. Catelyn Stark contributes as well.

Reed Richards.

Chuck and Ellie’s parents in Chuck.

For what it’s worth, though, the final episode reveals that she’s long wanted Malcolm to suffer enough to really give a crap about people like them – prompting him to follow up his fellowship at Harvard by doing public-service work, the better to run for Governor before becoming a good President.

Two more words: Big Daddy.

(Edit: If that counts. I guess maybe not.)

Harrison Ford’s character in The Mosquito Coast.

The Incredibles.

The Robinsons in Lost in Space.

Dreadful family, dreadful movie.

I agree she’s not fighting evil, but that show counts as horror in spades.

Lord Asriel, in the Golden Compass series. By the end of the series, the chain of events he starts literally puts his daughter through Hell. Though what he did to her friend is worse.

This is also the premise revealed at the end of another non-fantasy/sci-fi novel, which I will spoiler:

The Chosen, by Chaim Potok