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Usually, when a household starts experiencing supernatural events, and other bizarre occurrences, the whole family experiences them.

Well, almost everybody.

You see, the father, as the head of the family and the most "sensible and grounded" member, is the last person to encounter (or admit encountering) these bizarre events. The children see them, the wife/mother sees them, Hell, even the family dog sees them. But the dad is always the last person to see and believe. Although it's debatable whether or not they're the least susceptible, or just plain in denial. This is a depressingly common trope in "Haunted House" style stories, and may also be used by elder brothers/best (male) friends, etc.

Examples of Supernatural Proof Father include:


Film

  • In The Amityville Horror George is the last person to believe the house is haunted, yet is probably the one most affected, barring the Priest of course who ends up getting cursed after being the house for all of 10 minutes.
  • In the film The Orphanage, the female lead, Laura, notices all the creepy stuff thats going on, while her husband, Carlos, sees nothing, and remains relatively uninvolved. A big theme of the movie was how belief change's one's perception. The husband didn't want to believe in ghosts, so he got minimal exposure, while the wife and the alleged psychic got full treatment.
  • Genderflipped in The Shining. Jack and his son are the only two to experience the hotel's evil haunting. Jack is slowly driven insane in part by his inability to tell his wife what's going on, and his son (being psychic) is getting bombarded with oh-so-horrible ghostly memories. His wife is quite firmly grounded in reality, and in fact proves to be more than Jack or the Hotel can readily handle even after he goes batty on her.
  • In the Silent Hill movie, the main protagonist's husband believes that their daughter has simply gone insane, and tries as hard as he can to keep his wife from driving her to the titular town. This is a debatable example, because he might just be smart enough to realize that taking someone who yells the name of a place in her nightmares to that very place is a little like looking for a gas leak in a dark room with a match.
  • Averted in The Monster Squad, where Sean's dad quickly gets the picture after seeing Dracula blow up his partner with a stick of dynamite, and spends the rest of the movie helping his son battle the monsters. Bonus points for also being a cop; you know how they usually fare in this type of movie...
  • Several of the A Nightmare on Elm Street films.
    • It was hinted in Freddy vs. Jason (and even before that) that at least some of the parents, as well as certain members of the police department, knew that the new wave of teen deaths weren't a coincidence which, in turn, lead to the dream suppressant drug Hypnocil and a "Don't Say That Name" policy.
  • The film Audrey Rose concerns Ivy Templeton, a preteen girl tortured by horrific nightmares of dying in a car crash. When her parents are approached by a man named Elliot Hoover who claims that Ivy is the reincarnation of his dead daughter Audrey Rose (who died in a car crash at the exact moment of Ivy's birth), Ivy's father refuses to believe it. He holds fast to his belief even after the evidence becomes overwhelming enough to have convinced his wife, leading to serious tension between the two.
  • Averted in the first Phantasm movie. The protagonist's older brother and father figure is the second person to figure out the supernatural goings-on at the cemetery, and he also subverts Adults Are Useless by grabbing his shotgun and Colt 1911 and investigating things firsthand. On the DVD commentary, the director talks about about how he hates this trope, and it was his goal to avert it from the beginning.
  • Insidious cleverly plays with this trope, and deconstructs it. The father was made to repress his memory of a ghost that's been haunting him when he was a kid. Also the son basically inherited his dads ability to astral project into the spirit world, or the further.
  • While not a father, Micah in Paranormal Activity refuses to believe that he and Katie are being haunted by a demon and before he takes it seriously he mocks and taunts it.
    • Dan from the sequel plays this completely straight, though he does behave somewhat more sensibly than Micah.
    • Inverted in Paranormal Activity 3, where the mother is the one who refuses to believe anything strange is going on despite it affecting her husband and children.
  • Played painfully straight by Don't Be Afraid of the Dark.
  • Taken to idiotic extremes in The Haunting of Molly Hartley, where the eponymous character's father refuses to believe her when she tells him about the Satanic cult that is after her, even though he had made a literal Deal with the Devil to save her life several years prior.
  • In "The Canterville Ghost," people can only see ghosts if they already believe in ghosts. The dad, because he doesn't believe in ghosts, can't see them, and because he can't see them, it reinforces his belief that ghosts aren't real. He blames the ghost's activities to pranks on the part of the children, to the shock of the ghost in question.

Literature

  • This trope is analyzed in detail in Berkeley professor Carol J. Clover's treatise on gender in horror films Men, Women, and Chainsaws.
  • The Colour Out of Space by H.P. Lovecraft, where the father is the last one in the Gardner family who is alive and relatively sane.
  • In Peter Pan Mr. Darling's refusal to believe in the existence of Peter Pan (in spite of his wife's, and even his dog's, efforts to convince him otherwise) indirectly results in the departure of the children to Neverland. Afterwards, he even sleeps in a kennel to atone for this.
  • Some literary scholars claim that the father in The Erlking by Goethe represents the enlighted attitude of his time and is thus unresponsive to the supernatural phenomena his son (and for that matter all children - and women due to their sensitive nature) are capable of sensing.

Live Action TV

  • The Made for tv movie The Haunted had a father who didn't experience any of the supernatural happenings that the other family members was experiencing, Until he was raped by a female ghost/demon.
  • Completely averted in Supernatural, since the father is the one that finds the mother's body trapped on the ceiling, sees the ceiling light on fire, and then spends the rest of his life seeking out the demon that did it so he can avenge his wife. And he immerses himself in the supernatural and even raises his sons like soldiers to take over "the family business" when they grow up.
  • In The Miraculous Mellops, the father and some other adults don't believe in anything outside an ordinary lifestyle. While the father is affected by one supernatural event and the aunt suddenly learns forign languages, they still doesn't believe it's supernatural, and thinks the kids are still playing games.
  • In Round the Twist, Tony Twist, father of the three kid protagonists, is the last to believe the ghost in the first episode is real. Despite continuing strange goings on in Port Niranda, he's also most prone to Arbitrary Scepticism.
  • In American Horror Story Ben takes much longer than the others to realize something is going on, despite this requiring some Selective Obliviousness. After seeing Hayden killed and helping bury her and building a gazebo over her body, when he sees her ghost he decides she faked her death.

Anime and Manga

  • Subverted in Bleach, where Isshin Kurosaki appears to be this at first, complaining about being the only member of his family not to see ghosts, then later turns out to be faking it, and, technically speaking, being a ghost in a fake body the whole time, or something. Point is, he's the source of their genetically heritable supernatural wackiness, and not an exception.
  • Inverted in Haré+Guu, where Guu's Weirdness Censor renders her horror inconspicuous to everyone except Haré, the main character, and to a much lesser degree Dr. Clive, Haré's father.
    • And the Village Elder who always turns into quivering jelly when Guu is around.
      • Though that could be more due to what Guu did to him in the first episode than fear of the supernatural.

Western Animation

  • American Dragon Jake Long The reason for this is threefold: The dragon "gene" was passed down through the mother (it's skips a generation, apparently), the father is a Cloudcuckoolander, and the rest of the family is deliberately keeping the fact that his father-in-law, daughter, son, and many other relatives are dragons from him.
    • She's been trying to find a way to break the news to him...since sometime in the early nineties.

Real Life

  • Discovery Channel has a show about real-life hauntings, and it's usually the father/husband who's the last to freak out. In some episodes, he never acknowledges whatever weirdness drove his family from their home.
    • Some examples seem to imply that whatever may have been haunting the family was specifically aiming for this trope, by only tormenting the ones that believe most and driving a wedge between the family members when they still don't believe.
  • The Haunted, a show on Animal Planet featuring stories of hauntings connected to the family pets (often very loosely), also often had this trope in effect.
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