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Maybe he wants to make up for being away from home so often. Maybe he wants to understand what is in this kid's mind. Or maybe he just wants to prevent him from turning gay. Whichever reason he may have, one day Dad decides that he and Son should go out of the house and do something together! It will be fun, Dad says. And they will get to know each other better, won't that be great, old chap?
The problem is, Son is right now in an age where he isn't exactly very keen on doing uncool activities with uncool adults (or worse, being seen doing so). And Dad is of course the uncoolest adult there is! Since Son does not really have a say in the matter, he accompanies Dad of course. But don't expect him to just enjoy the day! He will instead react in one of these two ways:
- Passive-aggressiveness. Perhaps he won't outright revolt, but instead of being in a good mood, he is constantly snarking, and acts generally rather uncooperative.
- He will just find this incredibly dull and boring.
Popular bonding activities are:
- Playing baseball in the garden. May often not include the Son-Doesn't-Like-It bit. For some reason, American media tend to depict this as iconic stock image of Dad and Son genuinely having a splendid time together. Might have something to do with baseball being more popular in the US than in many other parts of the world. For that matter, Dad and Son throwing a(n American) football to and fro might convey the same associations.
- Fishing. This specific activity involving most of the time not much, well, activity, Son will most likely show reaction #2: "This is so booooooring."
- Hunting. Here, Dad tries to make a MAN out of Son, often with the ulterior motive to cure him of (either imagined or really existing) homosexuality. Which doesn't make much sense, if you think a bit about it: There is no logical reason why being gay and being a passionate sports hunter should be mutually exclusive. Will inevitably end in the hunters becoming the hunted, showing that Dad himself isn't as MANLY as he likes to consider himself.
- Other activities
- Other "nature" activities, like hiking or camping. Can of course overlap with fishing and hunting.
- Team sports
- Anything else you might need at least two persons for.
- A daydream of J.D. from Scrubs involves him playing baseball with his "father figure" Dr. Cox.
- The Simpsons: When Homer finds out that Abe may not really be his biological father, he imagines himself playing baseball with the mystery guy who actually sired him. (He even has a question mark instead of a face!)
- Not quite baseball, but this imagery is clearly invoked when Buzz plays with Zurg after the Luke, I Am Your Father moment in Toy Story 2.
- It's not playing baseball, but in Ragtime, when things are really starting to fall apart for the family, Father (who has been mostly neglectful) decides to take the Little Boy to see a baseball game whether he wants to go or not. In the end, Father is the one who has a miserable time (the game has more swearing, spitting, and immigrants than he remembered), while the Little Boy finds it all quite interesting.
- When Calvin signs up to play baseball at recess, his dad decides to teach him how to play. This goes about as well as you'd expect.
- A major part of Field of Dreams is Ray's rough relationship with his dad, who loved baseball. At the end of the movie, his father's ghost comes to the baseball field to play with him.
- In the Pilot of No Ordinary Family Jim tries to get the other members of the family interested in family bonding, including throwing the football around. Nobody cares to do so. The trip that they take where they have a plane crash and get their powers was another family bonding attempt.
- In The Venture Brothers, Hank seems to wish he could "throw the old pigskin around" with his dad, as evidenced by Rusty's Lotus Eater Machine.
- In The Big Bang Theory, everyone is shocked that Sheldon is an expert on football, due to his father's insistence on teaching him against his will.
- Bart going fishing with Flanders (not really Bart's father, but in this specific instance clearly acts as father figure) in The Simpsons movie. But, here this is very much appreciated by the boy.
- Earlier in the movie Homer did take Bart fishing, just with a bug zapper.
- In this page of a Star Trek TAS Fan Fiction comic, George Kirk goes fishing with his son James Tiberius. But Kirk Junior considers it far more interesting to analyze the fish with his tricorder.
- The Dexter's Laboratory episode "Catch of the Day" is about Dexter's father taking him fishing, though the focus of the episode seems to be about getting to the pond before dawn.
- In Order of the Stick, Roy goes fishing with his grandfather in the afterlife. Since Roy is an adult, it goes better than most of them.
- A textbook example appeared in Zits: Jeremy was already not excited about waking up at the crack of dawn to go on a boring fishing trip with his dad Walt, but then Walt decides to use the alone time to talk to Jeremy about sex, making the awkward meter shoot skyward.
- Codename: Kids Next Door: Numbuh One / Nigel and his father go fishing and playing the tuba (sousaphone). Nigel reacts with passive aggressiveness. That bites him in the ass when later another kid kidnaps (fishes!) Nigel’s dad to be his own and defies Nigel to a tuba competition with Nigels dad as the prize. It Makes Sense in Context.
- At the end of an episode of How I Met Your Mother, we see Barney's dad taking Barney and his half-brother to a fishing-trip. Barney quickly proclaims that this is boring. However, it can be seen as an improvement of their father-son relationship that Barney has agreed to go with them in the first place. Before that, he either forced his father to join him during his own usual activities (which are partying and hitting on chicks), or completely ignored him. Also, it has to be pointed out that, contrary to most other examples here, Barney is already an adult. His father went away early in his childhood, and therefore they have a lot to make up for.
- In The Simpsons, Homer tries de-gaying Bart by taking him to a deer hunt. After being attacked by reindeer, the hunting party gets rescued by the Camp and Gay (but not Camp Gay) man that Homer feared to have "contaminated" Bart in the first place.
- In Dinosaurs, Earl goes hunting with his son Robbie, in order to lure him away from herbivorism and to turn him back into a carnivore. While herbivorism is obviously a stand in for homosexuality here, in this specific context it would actually make sense for this kind of "therapy" to work. In Robbie's case, though, it doesn't. Instead, he and Earl get eaten by an even larger predator. They get better.
- In one episode of Star Trek the Next Generation, Worf takes a Klingon teenager, who lives in a remotely located colony (technically a Romulan prison, but not really prison-like, due to negligence by the Romulans) to a hunt, because Worf can't accept that he, and the other teenagers born there, know next to nothing about the Klingon Proud Warrior Culture. In contrast to the other examples, this actually works! The teenager even infects all the other Klingons with his post-hunt excitement. Cue a dozen Klingons breaking into a wild drinking song, and their Romulan comrades (their "guards") just sitting there and making uneasy facial expressions.
- Justified. Worf knows his culture VERY well, and has made a point of keeping tradition.
- In Moral Orel, Orel and his dad go hunting. His dad ends up shooting Orel accidentally.
Hiking and Camping
- In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin's father frequently takes his entire household camping in the woods. His dad seems to be the only one who enjoys it, and only some of the time. Nevertheless, he typically forgets the bad experiences the following year.
- In Married... with Children, Bud rented out Al as an overnight camping guide. Al forced Bud to go also. Fun was had by none.
- Eddie and his dad, Morty, go camping in an episode of Birdz. It starts out as one of these but in the end, Eddie admits it was fun.
Other (Team) Sports
- In Quack Pack, Donald convinces his nephews to play ice hockey with him. They are bored by this, and just try to win the game really fast, in order to end this as soon as possible.
- The Dexter's Laboratory episode "Sports a Poppin'" has Dexter's father try to teach Dexter a sport--any sport. Dexter winds up either misinterpreting the rules or fails miserably at it, and his father is forced to give up and retreat to the TV, thus missing Dexter using all the sports gears in an attempt to contain the monster that escaped the lab.
- In an attempt to masculine his son, Ludovic's father in My Life in Pink enrolls him in a soccer team. Ludo fails miserably at it though.
- A Goofy Movie: Goofy drags his son Max to a cross-country trip like the ones he took with his dad (which he remembers very fondly, in a subversion of this trope). Along the way there's a stop at a dilapidated theme park and a short fishing lesson interrupted by Big Foot. Oh, and they never actually finish the trip.
- Rock is convinced by Willy in My Dad the Rock Star to bond with him more and they find out they have nothing in common.
- An ad for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line is narrated by a mom, talking about her daughter not smiling. It seems to be Banned From Youtube, but here's a description.
- Field of Dreams ends with the protagonist and the ghost of his father playing catch.
- Happens many, MANY times in FoxTrot. An example:
Peter: Well, I guess things could be worse.
Peter: At least Dad hasn't suggest we sit around the campfire naked and beat drums in some stupid "Iron John" male-bonding ceremony.
Jason: Say it louder, I don't think he heard you.
Peter: Well, I guess things could be worse.
-Cut to Roger peeking out of a tent holding a drum.-
Roger: Who's up for some bonding?!
- The various activities to do with Shaun that Ethan comes up with in Heavy Rain are all pretty awkward, though, of course, their issues are on an entirely different level.
- Thane and Kolyat seem to be headed for this in Mass Effect 2.
- In The Simpsons, Homer has suddenly decided to spend time with his kids, to get back at his father (somehow). He tries to teach Bart how to ride a bike (even though Bart already knows), pushes Lisa on a tire swing (made with a broken, dirty tire), and showers Maggie with potato chips as he eats them with her strapped to his chest.
Bart: No offense, Homer, but your half-assed underparenting was a lot more fun than your half-assed overparenting.
Homer: But I'm using my whole ass.
- There was a commecial which featured a clearly nerdy dad who was sporting facial piercings, talking about bonding with his son at Burning Man. The son just sat there looking utterly mortified.
- Inverted in Boiler Room. Seth attempts to have coffee with Marty, but it's Marty (the father) who quickly gets annoyed and leaves.
- Glee: When Blaine correctly picks out a carburetor for Kurt's dad, Blaine explains that he and his own father rebuilt a classic Chevy together. He also explains that he thinks the activity was meant to "turn him straight."
- Glee also has a small Tear Jerker moment when Kurt sees his dad and new stepbrother bonding over watching college sports. As Kurt is more a Camp Gay character, it breaks his heart that there are some "manly" activities that he has no interest in and which will never be a way for him to bond with his own father.
- However, this trope is also inverted for the same characters in a Season Two episode, in which Kurt and his dad are seen sharing one of Kurt's favorite pastimes - cooking - as a bonding activity instead of the previously seen attempts at sports and working on cars. It doesn't work, but that's not because of the choice of activity.
- Variation: the awkward father-daughter bonding between Veronica and her father in Better Off Ted. For years the two of them have interacted mostly through corporate espionage and trying to one-up each other, but when Veronica's father develops terminal cancer they make some awkward attempts at spending time together. They quickly decide that they preferred the corporate espionage.
- Aquila is full of them, or at the very least attempted bonding activities like swimming (a lot of swimming is mentioned) but perhaps the oddest one is where a father sticks wheels on the titular space-craft.
- Subverted in PS238: In the intro, the father-son bonding between The Hulk Expy and his son (who is permanently in Hulk form) isn't seen as boring by either party, but involves breaking stuff.
- Gender-inverted example from Hey Arnold. Helga and her mother are going to meet up with relatives for Mother's Day weekend, and to do that, a road trip is necessary, and becomes this.
- ↑ This line was eventually used as the title of the strip compilation this storyline appears in.