Kevin Flynn in Tron: Legacy
There are a lot of absentee fathers on this list, but at least Flynn had a pretty damn good excuse, as excuses go. We see him — or at least a creepy, dead-eyed CGI version of him — telling stories of his adventures in the Grid to his young son Sam early in Legacy, only to learn that Kevin vanished two decades before the flick picked up with Sam now a rebellious and directionless twentysomething (Garrett Hedlund). He has no Clu clue what happened to his dad, but he’s justifiably upset that pops up and vanished without so much as a goodbye, and that bitterness has left him disinterested in either his father’s legacy or his corporation. A mysterious phone call and a visit from Kevin’s old friend Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) sets Sam on a path that will reunite him with his father, but not in this world.
After discovering his dad’s secret workshop hidden inside Flynn’s arcade, Sam finds himself dropped into the Grid, where he eventually learns Dad has been trapped for two decades after one of his creations, the program named CLU, turned on him and conquered the virtual world for his own purposes. Sam learns that all — okay, maybe just “most” — of those negative assumptions he’d been making about his father were false, and that his dad’s absence from his life wasn’t by choice. Of course, they would have had all those years together if Kevin wasn’t so focused on exploring the wonders of the Grid, but who can really blame him, they have freaking lightcycles. Unfortunately, as seems to so often be the case in this sort of thing, Sam and Kevin’s reunion doesn’t give them much time to catch up, as they’re busy trying to save the (digital) world and find a way back home. In the end, Kevin can’t give Sam all those years back, but does give his life to save his son’s. Daawwwww.
If He Was Our Dad: Honestly, all our unresolved anger toward him would be pretty much negated after he introduced us to Quorra (Olivia Wilde). We’re good, Dude. We’re good.
Ideal Father’s Day Gift: A digitized Alan Bradley, so those two could get drunk on neon-glowing booze and reminisce about the good old days while Daft Punk was playing. Failing that, a rug that really tied the room together.