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Video Game Characters Who Make Terrible Parents

Video game parents are more popular than ever, from the lovable, gruff dads like Joel from "The Last of Us" and Kratos from "God of War" to the kind, gentle moms like Toriel from "Undertale" and Naru from "Ori and the Blind Forest." Having a loving parent guiding you through a tough game can be a delightful bright spot in an otherwise terrifying new world.

For every caring parent in gaming, however, there's an awful one right around the corner waiting to terrorize their child. Bad gaming parents either let their kids run off on dangerous adventures without supervision or make their homes so unsafe that running away on adventures seem like the only escape. Worst case scenario, the parents themselves are a danger to the child and try to harm or kill them.

Whether they're simply neglectful or a straight-up antagonist, there are tons of terrible moms and dads in video games. Here are some video game characters who make terrible parents.

Beware of spoilers ahead for multiple games.

Ana (Overwatch)

We start our list with the former captain of Overwatch, Ana Amari. Ana took fans by storm as a crack-shot support that assisted her team with healing and deadly aim. Prior to rejoining Overwatch, she worked as a bounty hunter-slash-vigilante known only as Shrike, sabotaging Talon missions in Cairo to restore peace and stability.

Being both a public and behind-the-scenes hero doesn't automatically make you a good parent, though. Ana's position as a commanding officer of an international task force meant that she had a pretty tense relationship with her daughter, Fareeha (known in-game as "Pharah"). Fareeha wanted to emulate her mother, while Ana wanted to keep her daughter safe, which frequently came across as her being distant and authoritarian. That's not the worst of it, though — after a moment of hesitation during a mission led to a near-fatal injury, Ana disappeared and let Fareeha believe she was dead for years. When she finally revealed herself to be alive, it was through a letter.

Many "Overwatch" fans prefer to give Ana the benefit of the doubt, saying that the circumstances of her disappearance make it clear that she's not a bad person. Still, gamers agree that she treated her daughter unfairly and needs to sort out her priorities.

Dracula (Castlevania)

You can't exactly be the lord of all evil and a good father at the same time. Dracula's campaign to exterminate all of humanity draws the ire of the Belmont clan, even after they were ostracized and rejected by the people of Wallachia. It also summons his dhampir (half-vampire, half-human) son, Alucard.

To say that Dracula and Alucard have a strained relationship would be an understatement. Though Alucard loves his father and joins Trevor Belmont in the hopes of changing Dracula's mind, he also understands what must be done if his violent campaign can't be stopped. He even changes his name, literally becoming the "anti-Dracula" in order to illustrate that he opposes his father's evil deeds.

While Dracula is a cut-and-dry villain in the "Castlevania" games, the Netflix series of the same name paints him with a bit more nuance. In the show, his campaign is fueled by grief over the murder of his human wife (Alucard's mother), and his ultimate conflict with Alucard is made all the more heartwrenching and tragic as a result.

Flemeth (Dragon Age)

Flemeth from the "Dragon Age" series basically exists to be a bad mom. Players meet her in "Dragon Age: Origins" as Morrigan's mother, a mysterious and conniving old witch who lives in the Korcari Wilds and seems to know more about the Darkspawn threat than she lets on.

Flemeth and Morrigan have a complicated relationship, as fans have noted. Though Morrigan loves her mother, she recognizes that Flemeth hides a lot from her. Eventually, she realizes that Flemeth is hurtful and self-serving for reasons that Morrigan doesn't fully understand. After recovering the Black Grimoire, Morrigan discovers that her mother conceives and raises her daughters with the express intent of possessing their bodies, thus maintaining Flemeth's supernaturally long lifespan. 

Even if the player chooses to slay Flemeth as the Warden, she returns in "Dragon Age 2" and "Dragon Age: Inquisition" wearing a brand new form — suggesting she had other daughters waiting in the wings in case Morrigan was an unwilling host. Talk about living vicariously through your kids.

Heihachi Mishima (Tekken)

Heihachi Mishima is an infamously bad parent. As the main antagonist of most of the "Tekken" series, he has plenty of opportunities to establish himself as a bad guy, and he does it seemingly with gusto. He hosts several of the franchise's Iron Fist Tournaments, establishing throughout his career that "a fight is about who is left standing, nothing more."

It's not his career as a ruthless fighter that makes him a bad parent, though — it's the fact that he threw his five-year-old son off a cliff. Upon realizing that his son Kazuya may have inherited the ability-granting Devil Gene from his mother, he tossed him into a ravine. When the Gene awakened and spared Kazuya's life through supernatural means, Heihachi raised him to be the ultimate fighting machine. He even adoped another young boy, Lee Chaolan, solely for the purposes of giving Kazuya a rival. Both men resent their father as a result, and have no problem fighting to take him down.

The cliff thing wasn't just a one-off, either — the ending of "Tekken 2" sees Heihachi throw Kazuya into a volcano after defeating him. Kazuya eventually gets his revenge in "Tekken 7," when he turns the tables and drops his father into a river of magma.

Bowser (Mario)

Bowser is a tough pick for this list, mostly because his parenting style changes depending on which game he's starring in. His almost single-minded focus on kidnapping Peach and defeating Mario means that he often leaves his son, Bowser Jr., as well as the rest of the Koopalings (who are canonically just his minions) unsupervised for long periods of time. Since these kids have become the main antagonists in many of the "Super Mario Bros." titles, it's clear that they can get into a ton of harmful trouble when left to their own devices.

Still, Bowser isn't as bad a parent as many of the others included here. In fact, he has been shown to care about his son and even expresses pride in him in "Super Mario Sunshine." Also, their constant presence in the "Mario" sports games shows that he frequently takes Junior out for fun father-son bonding activities (he's even gotten the kid a little golfing outfit for "Mario Golf: Super Rush"). Bowser also seems to be invested in his son's hobbies and online gaming habits, showing that he wants him to grow up in a relatively safe and child-friendly environment.

Of course, it was also partially up to Bowser Jr. to stop his dad when he went out of control in "Bowser's Fury." Fans seem pretty split on whether Bowser's truly a bad dad or simply a busy single father, but there's plenty of evidence across the franchise to support both conclusions.

Manfred von Karma (Ace Attorney)

Manfred von Karma is a real piece of work. You meet him in the final case of "Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney" as the terrifying prosecutor who's never once lost a case. He's dedicated to perfection above all else, and that turns out to be his downfall at the hands of Phoenix Wright and von Karma's own adopted son, Miles Edgeworth.

Von Karma took a young Edgeworth in after convincing him that he's responsible for his own father's death. He raised him alongside his biological daughter Franziska, training both of them to become ruthless prosecutors that could carry on his legacy. They earnestly follow in his footsteps, brainwashed by von Karma's impossible standards and abusive methods.

It's not until Phoenix Wright steps into court (fifteen years later!) that the siblings are able to break free of von Karma's dark influence. Edgeworth works with Phoenix to expose von Karma's murderous past, revealing that he killed Miles' father, Gregory Edgeworth, for threatening to break his perfect record. Once absolved of the guilt over his father's death, Edgeworth dedicates himself to the pursuit of truth above all else, and eventually helps Franziska learn that perfect records mean nothing if they're based on lies, unfair verdicts, and horrible parenting.

Freya (God of War)

Freya may not be the first person to come to mind when you think of bad parents in "God of War." After all, the Greek pantheon was full of parents who manipulated and killed their own children, and even Kratos himself once murdered his own daughter while under Ares' influence. Kratos spent years working on himself and trying to be a better father for Atreus, though, which makes Freya the latest and "greatest" addition to the series' bad parent roster.

After learning that her son Baldur's death would bring about the end of the world, Freya cursed him with invincibility. This doesn't sound like such a bad deal at first, except that the spell designed to protect her kind child from harm had the unfortunate side effect of making him immune to all feeling — not only pain, but joy and pleasure as well. Years of this torture drove Baldur to murderous insanity, and even when he begged his mother to lift the curse and make his life worth living again, she refused out of her own selfish desire to see him live forever.

At the end of "God of War," when Baldur regains feeling due to Atreus's mistletoe arrow, Freya doesn't attempt to truly help him. Instead, she tries to appease him by offering her own life. Rather than doing the hard work to help her son be truly happy, she encouraged him take whatever he wanted — and got him killed as a result.

Gwyn (Dark Souls)

Gwyn is the final boss in "Dark Souls," acting as the last obstacle between the Chosen Undead and the First Flame. In the past, he sacrificed himself in order to preserve the Age of Fire — the ashen creature at the end of the game is the last remaining piece of the once-mighty Lord of Sunlight.

"Mighty" doesn't mean "good," however. Gwyn is a terrible father to all three of his children, though in slightly different ways. His firstborn— the God of War known only as the "Nameless King" in "Dark Souls 3" — was considered his golden child until he had his status as a deity stripped from him. It's unclear what he did for this to happen, but many fans believe he betrayed his father to side with the dragons. Gwyn abandoned his daughter, Gywnevere, in Anor Londo when he sacrificed himself to the First Flame to become the Lord of Cinder. His youngest son, Gwyndolin, was born with an affinity for the moon, and so Gwyn constantly humiliated him for how "repulsive [and] frail" he was by comparison.

Eventually, Gwyn would outright abandon his family to pursue his own selfish goals.

Booker DeWitt (Bioshock Infinite)

Most of the bad parents on this list are villains or complicated side characters, but Booker DeWitt is the first of our bad dad roundup to be a fully playable protagonist. As the hero of "BioShock Infinite," Booker's parental nature isn't fully revealed until almost the ending of the game.

In the game's final chapter, "Revelations," Booker and Elizabeth go through a series of dimensional tears that explain Booker's past. Overwhelmed by crippling gambling debt, Booker sold his daughter Anna to a man named Zachary Hale Comstock in exchange for having his slate wiped clean. He regretted the transaction almost immediately, but it was too late — she disappeared through a tear with Comstock before Booker could get her back. 

Booker realizes that Elizabeth is Anna, and asks her to open a portal to Comstock's birth so that he can  kill him and prevent the trade from ever happening. She agrees, but they realize upon arrival that Comstock is an alternate reality version of Booker himself, reborn through a baptism meant to cleanse him of the sins he committed at Wounded Knee.

Considering that Elizabeth's life with Comstock was full of hardships and pain, it's clear that Booker is a bad father in all sorts of realities, regardless of the circumstances he's under.

Handsome Jack (Borderlands 2)

Handsome Jack is the main antagonist of Borderlands 2, and anyone who's played more than a few minutes of the game will completely understand why he has a place on this list. Jack is arrogant, megalomaniacal, and condescending — all of the things that make him one of the most iconic and compelling gaming antagonists are also what make him a terrible father.

After he learns about his daughter Angel's Siren powers, Jack hooks her up to Hyperion's ECHOnet to help him monitor Pandora and manipulate the Vault Hunters into opening the mysterious Vault. Once he has access to the Eridium inside, he tortures Angel by making her dependent on a constant supply of the alien element to charge the Vault Key. Despite Jack's control over her, Angel helps the Vault Hunters break into her prison and uses her dying breath to curse her father out.

Jack's reaction to her death (and background on their relationship provided by ECHO Recorders scattered around the planet) suggests that he truly loved his daughter, but his insanity and narcissism leaves some fans skeptical. His hero and victim complexes make it more likely that he loved what she could do for him, and used the idea of being a loving father as a way to make himself seem like a better person.

Dahlia Gillespie (Silent Hill)

As the main antagonist of both "Silent Hill" and "Silent Hill: Origins," it's comes as little surprise that Dahlia Gillespie is a bad mother. As the leader of the Order, Dahlia is devoted to her evil god and steadfastly determined to bring him to life. She imagines that he'll bring paradise with him, but the things she does in his name make his potential birth seem more like an apocalypse waiting to happen.

Dahlia tortures her daughter Alessa for years with physical and psychological punishments. She claims that all of this is done to bring Alessa into her faith and "save" her soul, suggesting she might actually cares about her daughter in her own sick, twisted way.

This is more or less brought to fruition when Alessa is eventually declared a Saint of the Order, even though she did all in her power to stop herself from bearing their evil god. Alessa is left with a somewhat confused view of her mother: she despises Dahlia for her actions, but can't seem to bring herself to completely hate her.

Mom (The Binding of Isaac)

Mom from "The Binding of Isaac" might be the most obvious pick for this list. Under the influence of a voice she believes to be God, she begins punishing Isaac. She first takes away all of his toys and clothes, then locks him in his room without meals. Finally, she's instructed to kill Isaac, which leads to the events of the game.

It's not exactly clear whether the events of "Binding of Isaac" are literal or simply symbolic, but the evidence against Mom is condemning either way. Isaac makes his way through a gauntlet of bizarre threats either inflicted upon him by his mother or representative of the horrors she's put him through. Mom herself is the final boss, stomping at Isaac with ruthless abandon until she either kills him or he finally defeats her.

The game contains a wide variety of endings, all of which involve either some form of Isaac being killed at the hands of his mother or the enemies she sends his way, or Isaac triumphing over his mother and taking her down in turn. Talk about a rough mother-son relationship.

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.