20 Horrible Parents We’ve Seen In Movies And On TV

These on-screen parents were super trash.

Relationships with parents can be complicated, especially before you’re grown up.

It’s easy for kids to think that their family is the worst out there, but sometimes media provides a nice dose of perspective to what life is like for other people.

These fictional parents were despicable.


Joan Crawford (Mommie Dearest)

Paramount Pictures / Via giphy.com

This classic film shows Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in a film that follows her abusive relationship with her adopted daughter, Christina. It’s pretty dark and shows some seriously dangerous behavior that’s terrifying (although allegedly an exaggeration of the real thing).


Kate and Peter McCallister (Home Alone)

Hughes Entertainment / Via giphy.com

Having one kid slip through the cracks one time is awful, but more than once, and well, are you even paying attention?


Lester Burnham (American Beauty)

Jinks/Cohen Company / Via giphy.com

There’s just no excuse for any of it. Nope, nope, nope.


The Wormwoods (Matilda)

TriStar Pictures / Via giphy.com

Parents definitely were more lenient in the ’90s but the Wormwoods took relaxed to a whole other level. They were not really actively parenting at all and they’re just generally awful, which makes it all the better when they get bested by their own kid.


Nick Parker and Elizabeth James (The Parent Trap)

Disney / Via giphy.com

Who decides the best way to handle your divorce with newborn twins is to separate them so they never have to know the other exists? Who agrees to just never seeing one of their children ever again? WHO?!


Ross Gellar (Friends)

NBC / Via tenor.com

Ross is unhelpful in a lot of situations at the beginning of Ben’s life because he’s still butthurt about his ex-wife coming out. Ben isn’t around all that much as he gets older, which wouldn’t be entirely weird if Ross talked about him … ever. And he didn’t feel the need to introduce him to his own little sister in the late series? Absurd.


Royal Tenenbaum (The Royal Tenenbaums)

American Empirical Pictures / Via giphy.com

Royal left most of the parenting to his unhappy estranged wife. He’s selfish and uninterested and, at times, cruel. He does try to redeem himself but you can argue it’s too little too late.


Marissa Benson (iCarly)

Nickelodeon / Via tenor.com

Mrs. Benson violated all reasonable teen boy boundaries in trying to keep her son safe and healthy. She also never cared that in doing so, she was completely humiliating him.


Dan Scott (One Tree Hill)

The CW

Dan Scott goes through life not only trying to deny the existence of one of his kids but actively pitting his other kid against that kid. And then he kills his own brother, the only father-figure his abandoned kid has ever known. TRASH.


Lacey Hamilton (Awkward)

Remote Productions / Via tenor.com

An anonymous letter telling you that you aren’t cool and it’s your fault is horrible. But going on to find out that your own mother wrote it? Lacey is the worst.


All of the parents on Pretty Little Liars


How don’t any of them realize their kids are going through something? Like even based on the information that was available to them, most if not all of these girls should have been getting professional help.


Lily Van Der Woodsen (Gossip Girl)

The CW / Via tenor.com

It’s easy to name Bart Bass as the worst parent on Gossip Girl but Lily really sucked sometimes. For every cool mom moment, she did something absurd like hiding her son’s suicide attempt because she was worried about how it would impact their social lives. She hid a whole child from Rufus, slept with him the day before she was supposed to marry Bart WHILE her daughter was dating Rufus’ son. She even framed a guy for statutory rape to get Serena back into her old high school. Awful, just awful.


Gemma Teller (Sons of Anarchy)

The Linson Company / Via giphy.com

Gemma started out all about protecting her family, but her relationship with Jax was toxic. She was ready to ruin his life if it meant keeping him close, which is not exactly A1 parenting. She started to care only about herself in the end.


King Adnarr and Queen Iduna (Frozen)

Disney / Via tenor.com

Isolation as a parenting tactic is generally frowned upon, no matter what’s out there in the world.


Frank Gallagher (Shameless)

Warner Bros. Television / Via giphy.com

It’s called Shameless for a reason. Frank Gallagher will do anything, including but not limited to trying to sell one of his children.


Every parent on Riverdale

Warner Bros. Television / Via giphy.com

Their high school drama/trauma went so unchecked for so long that their kids are sorting it out … yikes. The Lodges, in particular, do an incredible job of ignoring their daughter’s strengths and talents because they’re too caught up in their own drama.


Aaron Echolls (Veronica Mars)


Aaron Echolls was abusive to his son Logan, then started having an affair with the girlfriend, then killed her. Then Logan moves on and when his new girlfriend finds out about Aaron’s ridiculous ways, he tries killing her too. Seek help, Aaron.


Frank Reynolds (It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia)

RCG Productions / Via giphy.com

Frank takes the subtype of a parent that wants to be part of a kid’s friend group to a whole other level. Then there’s the whole maybe Charlie’s dad thing … get it together, Frank.


Eli Pope (Scandal)

ABC / Via giphy.com

Talk about putting pressure on your kid. Olivia’s issues in her relationships clearly stem from her issues growing up with Eli as her dad. He’s overbearing and manipulative, both an inescapable presence and entirely unavailable when Olivia needs him and it doesn’t serve him in any way.


Walter White (Breaking Bad)

AMC Networks / Via giphy.com

Walter White started off with good intentions, but he ultimately checks out on his family because he’s into the ~power~ of being a makeshift drug lord.

What other TV and movie parents were the worst? Share in the comments!