By Will Custer
The theme of fatherhood within the Star Wars universe is one of the most consistent parts of the franchise. In each era of Star Wars, and within many of the stories, you have some terrible dads, some mediocre dads, and some absent dads (looking at you, Anakin).
Then occasionally you have some legitimately great dads, too. It was clear from the very beginning that George Lucas was drawn to the idea of family issues and precisely the notion of father relationships, and occasionally the lack of that relationship. Through the scope of the heroes, Lucas always has seemed fascinated by telling stories about heroes and how the family relationships impact those heroes.
This weekend is Father’s Day in the United States, so let’s take a look at the five most iconic father figures in the Star Wars universe, and their impact on the heroes they were most closely associated with.
5. Ephraim Bridger
Ephraim Bridger was the father to Ezra Bridger in the animated series Star Wars Rebels. Ezra starts the series as a teenager on the planet Lothal, seeking some purpose in the greater Star Wars galaxy. Ephraim and his wife Mira adamantly spoke out against the Galactic Empire. They even went to the extent of starting their own rebellion on Lothal to combat the oppressive Empire regime. The messages that Ephraim communicated during the time of the rebellion served as inspiration for his son Ezra when he was older, and helped him gain the courage to help liberate Lothal from the Empire.
This example of a father figure with Ephraim is one where the father figure is absent for most of the child’s life. This is a theme that occurs in Star Wars (and within this list) more often than not. Many times the father-child relationships in a galaxy far away are the absence of the father figure that teaches the most significant lessons to the child.
The Ephraim-Ezra dynamic shows that idea on such a high level. Ezra fights for what is right because of what his father did, and he wants to continue to carry out his father’s legacy and continue to fight the good fight for those who cannot. We don’t get an in-person Ephraim-Ezra relationship, but the impact of the father in this storyline is felt on such a deep and intimate level.
4. Kanan Jarrus
Okay, I swear not all of the excellent father examples are in Star Wars Rebels, but the first two belong to that show. While Kanan Jarrus is not a biological father like Ephraim Bridger, he is as vital to the growth we see in Ezra throughout Rebels. Kanan’s primary purpose is to train Ezra as a Jedi, and through that training, they grow closer, and Kanan becomes a mentor and father figure for Ezra.
We see Kanan evolve into this father figure throughout the series just as much as Ezra grows into the Jedi Kanan wants him to be. When we first are introduced to the Kanan-Ezra relationship, we see the parent struggling to reach the child. It is something that many parents I’m sure struggle with.
As the parent, you know what is best for the child, but the child is combative and might not necessarily see what you are trying to do. Over time we see Kanan struggling, and at times even failing to parent and train Ezra. That’s where we see the father-son dynamic grow and eventually flourish into a beautiful relationship.
When Kanan fails to reach and teach Ezra effectively, it is he, the parent who has to adapt to the child. Over time we can see Kanan eventually reach Ezra and succeed in helping him reach his potential.
Like any father-son relationship, they help each other learn and grow into what their potential has destined them to be. Kanan is, in a way, just a physical vessel of a father, but he is as essential as the biological father of Ezra.
3. Obi-Wan Kenobi
Obi-Wan Kenobi serves in the father figure role in two separate ways. The first comes with Anakin Skywalker. With Anakin, Kenobi helps raise him after the untimely death of Master Qui-Gon Jinn. At first, Kenobi is hesitant to take Anakin in as his padawan and responsibility. He is almost like an uncle taking over parenting responsibilities when the biological parent dies.
Anakin is a responsibility that Kenobi did not expect to have, but he is one that eventually Kenobi embraces. He helps Anakin grow both as a Jedi and as a person. He often refers to Anakin as a brother and says he is the closest thing he has to family. While in the end, Kenobi fails Anakin by letting him fall to the dark side, he makes a last attempt to bring him back and fights until the very final moments to guide him down the right path.
Kenobi is like any quality father figure in this sense. Parents will try and do what is best for their child and watch over them, even if that child is going down a dangerous and evil path.
Years later, Kenobi has a similar duty when he takes Anakin’s son, Luke, under his wing. Although Luke has known Kenobi since birth, it is not until the events of A New Hope where he steps up as that father figure. He helps Luke start his hero’s journey without hesitation. During the events of A New Hope, Luke’s guardians die, and even if it is Luke taking the first steps in asking for guidance, Kenobi wants to help guide him as a father figure and teach him in the ways of the Force.
Again, Kenobi is acting more like an uncle watching over a child, but regardless shows off some excellent skills as a father figure and mentor.
2. Galen Erso
Galen Erso is the father to Jyn Erso during the film Rogue One, and by a large margin, is my favorite father in Star Wars. Time and time again, he goes above and beyond to do what is be for his daughter and family, even if it means doing it from afar. At the beginning of Rogue One, he lies to his old colleague, Orson Krennic, lying and saying his wife is dead and hides Jyn to make sure that the Galactic Empire won’t find her. He does not care about his well-being; all he wants to do is make sure that his family remains safe.
Later on, in the same film, we find out that he put a weakness in the Empire’s superweapon, The Death Star, and hid the plans under a name that only his Stardust could find.
Galen knows his family and knows what they are made of. They are strong and continue to persevere, and like him, they will always do what is right. He realizes that all he has in this universe is his family, and even when he is forced to work for The Empire, he makes sure that he looks out for their well-being (and at times the welfare of the entire galaxy). He is one of the best and most relatable dads in the whole Star Wars franchise. All dads should strive to be half as good as Galen Erso.
1. Qui-Gon Jinn
The number-one spot for father figure in the Star Wars galaxy goes to Qui-Gon Jinn. He taught Obi-Wan Kenobi everything he knew, even when he didn’t agree with the Jedi Council and its teachings. He felt that it was his responsibility to unflinchingly carry out his task as Jedi Master and teach everything about the Jedi to his pupil, the good and the bad. Then he recognized an advanced force sensitive kid in Anakin and jumped at the opportunity to try and step up and be the mentor for him.
He believes in his heart that Anakin is the Chosen One and will do anything to make sure he, at the very least, has the opportunity to try and live up to his potential. When the Jedi Council doesn’t buy into Anakin, Qui-Gon is the one that steps up and takes him under his wing, vouching both for Anakin but also saying that Obi-Wan Kenobi is up to the task to be a Jedi Master and face the trials.
Everyone needs a father figure like Qui-Gon. He is patient, honest, and has your back one hundred percent of the way. When others lose faith in you, they step up and restore faith and confidence in yourself. For those reasons, he is the best father figure in the galaxy.