“I’m starting The Witcher 3 and Geralt is my dad now.” I made this bold declaration on Twitter as I began my 130+ hour love affair with The Witcher 3, which to this day remains one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It took playing a few other games to realize I have a type when it comes to games. I call this genre “Sword Dads.” Like the name implies, these games have at least one character with a daditude (that’s a “dad attitude” for you newcomers) and an often comically large sword.
I categorize Sword Dads loosely. Blood relation to a child can be a factor, but it isn’t necessary. A Sword Dad can be anyone, really. What matters is having a sort of fatherly attitude/mentoring role/proclivity for dad jokes aimed at a younger character. Per the name, a Sword Dad will also ideally carry a big sword or two, though other weapons may count, too.
We love Sword Dads here at Sidequest and are excited to bring you a definitive ranking of the most dangerous, dadliest dads in video games.
Editor’s note: The following entries may contain spoilers. See a Dad from a game you don’t want to be spoiled for? Skip it! Also, you’ll notice below that the nominees aren’t ranked—you, the reader, will have the power to decide on the ultimate Sword Dad. Give us your thoughts below!
Editor’s note 2.0, 1/7/2019: Vote on best Sword Dad right through here! Each tier will last 24 hours, so vote right the heck now.
Geralt of Rivia (The Witcher 3), nominated by Maddi Butler
The goal of The Witcher 3 is to find Ciri, a princess whose magical Elder Blood makes her a target of the Wild Hunt. Geralt treats Ciri with more care and respect than her biological father, tracking her down through space and time to save her from The Wild Hunt. Space and time! Even though, as we all know, Geralt hates portals. How many dads would take on interdimensional travel for their kid? He even makes dad jokes. He also has not one, but two swords and a canonical guest bedroom for Ciri in his home. Father of the Year, 1272.
Sephiroth (Final Fantasy VI), nominated by Annie Blitzen
This is a bit of a spoiler, as Sephiroth is portrayed as a Sword Dude for most of the game, but eventually we find out about Reunion. It turns out he’s secretly Sword Dad to a bunch of weird cultists and mutants! Kind of verges on being Sword Pope, which is a little bit TOO dad to qualify. And then in Advent Children, he’s kind of Sword Jesus? FF7 is complicated. Honorable Mention to Zack, the franchise’s Sword Big Brother.
Dracula (Castlevania: Symphony of the Night), nominated by Annie Blitzen
Another somewhat oddball pick, since he’s off-screen for basically the whole game, Dracula is the Evil Sword Dad to Alucard, his Rebellious Sword Son. We mostly learn about Dracula’s Sword Parenting via his son, who has turned out about as well as any half-vampire hell-bent on revenge can be expected to, really. Pro tip: don’t name your kid your own name reversed.
Biggoron (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time), nominated by Annie Blitzen
A factor that can be key to identifying dads is, of course, size. Dads are bigger than their sons (except when they’re not). Darunia, as chief of the gorons, is bigger than almost all of them. Biggoron, however, is at least ten times as big! So big. It’s right there in the name. And he’s the greatest swordsmith in Hyrule. He gifts Link with the biggest sword in the game.
Auron (Final Fantasy X), nominated by Annie Blitzen
Tidus is possibly the youngest (or at least most child-like) protagonist in the series, unless you think Vanille is the protagonist of 13, in which case you are wrong. Tidus’ childishness is reinforced by the presence of Auron, his mysterious dad who doesn’t know how jackets (or gi tops? what even article of clothing is that supposed to be?) are supposed to work. He also carries an unnecessarily large sword over his shoulder at all times. I believe he heroically dies protecting his son a few times along the way? It’s been a while. Very Sword, very Dad.
Lightning (Final Fantasy XIII), nominated by Annie Blitzen
You might say, “Lightning is a woman! She’s obviously a Sword Mom.” Fool! She is a) a grizzled soldier, b) incredibly gay, and c) situated somewhere between power femme and utilifemme on the Lesbian Gender Presentation Spectrum. More importantly, she displays zero moments of maternal affection toward Vanille, the whiny, ungrateful son she never asked for. She swords things and fruitlessly attempts to teach him how to toughen up and get shit done. She radiates daditude. And she has a SWITCHBLADE SWORD. So strong.
Cyan (Final Fantasy VI), nominated by Tia Kalla
The first thing that we learn about Cyan is that he is a master swordsman, filling the “sword” part of the equation. Shortly after, we learn that he has a wife and a young son, just as they are cruelly ripped away from him by the murderous Empire. Most of Cyan’s character arcs revolve around his family—his rage against the Empire, his goodbyes in the Phantom Forest, and later, his letters to a young woman dealing with the same sort of grief. Cyan is among the oldest in the party, both in maturity and in stodginess, not understanding newfangled Magitech and getting flustered at a woman’s offer to show him “Humpty” and “Dumpty.” And while the customizable party limits the personalized character interactions between Cyan and the others, especially late in the game, he does seem to have at least a protective instinct toward Gau, the young boy abandoned on the Veldt.
Braev Lee (Bravely Default), nominated by Tia Kalla
Broad-shouldered and armored, Braev is the paladin of the game, combining both the sword and a Dad-like protectiveness. As an NPC who leads the enemies against the main party, his character is primarily shown through the fraught relationship he has with his daughter, Edea Lee, and their shared stubbornness that puts them at odds. As one progresses through the game, however, events show his character softening his stance, even showing approval of her in his stoic way. And if you don’t think he and Alternis Dim have a father-son relationship, I’m sorry, but you’re wrong.
Bertrand (Etrian Odyssey Untold 2: The Fafnir Knight), nominated by Tia Kalla
We first meet Bertrand, a Protector, in the company of his ward/charge, a young mage named Chloe. Battle-scarred and ill-shaven, he acts as the voice of reason among the party (all significantly younger than him) and often makes snarky quips about being an old man. It isn’t until about halfway through the game that Bertrand really starts to shine, though, as we see the burdens of his past, his sins, and the woman he loved. And while Bertrand does try to sacrifice himself for the good of the party at one point, it is the pleading of Chloe that stays his hand.
Gladiolus Amicitia (Final Fantasy XV), nominated by Maddi Butler
You’d think Regis would be Final Fantasy XV’s main Sword Dad. He’s Noctis’s biological father! The weapon he passes on to Noctis is called Sword of the Father! People call him Reggie, which is a very dadly nickname! However, the real Sword Dad of the game is Gladio. He’s the oldest, largest, and tank-iest member to partake in the emo boy band road trip that is FFXV. In addition to wielding a Cloud Strife-worthy greatsword, Gladio also partakes in dadly activities like making bad jokes, forcing his unruly children (Noctis and Prompto) to go camping, ensuring they don’t die, and yelling motivational things at them.
Nier (Nier: Gestalt), nominated by Maddi Butler
Depending on which version of the game you play—Gestalt or Replicant—Nier’s age changes. In Nier: Gestalt (the U.S. version of the game), he’s father to a young, terminally ill girl named Yonah and one or two outsiders he adopts through the course of the game. In true Yoko Taro fashion, the game features complicated relationships, an extremely convoluted plot, multiple endings, and very big swords. He may not wield the biggest sword on our list, but Nier’s swordsmanship skills are still impressive as he hacks and slashes his way to Yonah like the protective, grizzled Dad that he is.
Raphael (Soulcalibur series), nominated by Elvie Mae Parian
Everyone in Soulcalibur has a sword one way or the other, but only one of them has the credentials to be Dad™. With the recent release of Soulcalibur VI, much of what is actually still canon in Raphael Sorel’s backstory is up in the air. What is currently consistent, however, is his care for a young girl named Amy. Despite appearing at first to be a rich fencer boy who only thrives off careless flamboyancey and a privileged, idgaf attitude, Raphael humbled himself (or rather, dad’ed himself) to a orphan who would one day end up saving his life in the streets of France while on the run. In the original series’ canon, Raphael left Amy behind at his wealthy estate to protect her, as he realized he was slowly succumbing to the evil powers of Soul Edge. With the gradual degradation of his humanity, Raphael upgrades(?) to become a full on malfested, EDGELORD VAMPIRE DAD™. Amy eventually leaves the estate to reunite with him out of her own restlessness, unfortunately pitting her against moral choices as Raphael has lost control of himself. As of VI, it is unclear if this vampire storyline will return, but Amy is still clearly within Raphael’s mind and protecting her is a priority, even if it means sacrificing his humanity.
Raiden (Metal Gear series), nominated by Elvie Mae Parian
Raiden may be an unintentionally terrible father AND husband, but he is still both of those things and carries a couple of swords around, too. Raiden (real name: Jack), was raised and conditioned to be a child soldier. He never quite catches a break as he goes from working across several black ops and mercenary units that push him to eventually find independence and the truth about his life on his own terms. Unfortunately, his lover/eventual wife and their child are often thrown into peril because of his line of work. He gets whisked away in a moral battle between country, the people he thought he trusted, and his own identity, throwing him into near-death situations that would later forcibly put him in a cyborg body. (Despite being 80% cyborg, those luscious locks are indeed 100% real.) Raiden also uses swords in combat because he literally thinks they are cool. Really. Trained largely on guns, he took it upon himself to master the art of swordsmanship because he saw a guy kill with a knife this one time. So it is not entirely Raiden’s fault that the people he loves are constantly endangered due to the convoluted circumstances around his pretty effed up upbringing. It would take crossing paths with Solid Snake to discover together that Big Boss is indeed the worser father and perhaps the actual worst of all video game dads.
Abel (Dragon Quest V), nominated by Tia Kalla
The player character of Dragon Quest V is a rare example in that we get to see him both as a Sword Dad and a sword son of a Sword Dad. The game starts in Abel’s childhood, following him and his single dad Pankraz on their journey. Abel grows up, gets married, and in turn ends up on a journey with his son and daughter to defeat a great evil. While his dad and his son are both important people to the world at large, the story centers around Abel, making Dragon Quest V more a story about family than about fighting against demons. And Abel is also a cat (and imp, and slime) dad: unlike other Dragon Quest heroes, he has the ability to care for monsters and recruit them to his side.
Kratos (Tales of Symphonia), nominated by Tia Kalla
The older lone-wolf Kratos initially joins the party to protect the Chosen One on her dangerous journey. He’s definitely the most skilled swordsman of the group, earning him the envy of the party’s sixteen year old, Lloyd. Although initially cold and aloof, he seems to take a bit of a shine to Lloyd, the party’s other swordsman, and mentors him in his blunt way not unlike pushing a bird out of the nest. Even as the plot drives the two apart, Kratos continues to show up from time to time, giving Lloyd subtle nudges and advice. Some of the few times he’s actually smiled are when Lloyd gets through an obstacle and grows a bit.
Kratos (The other one, from God of War), nominated by Maddi Butler
Despite owning the newest game since August, I haven’t played God of War yet, meaning everything I know about it I’ve learned through osmosis on Twitter. I don’t know anything about the plot other than Kratos and his son Atreus are going somewhere, to do something that is probably important. Maybe Gods are involved? Kratos’s signature weapon may be an axe (have I mentioned lately how disappointed I am that I can’t rename him “Axe Daddy”?) but he also gets some pretty sweet Chaos Blades. The only thing missing is mutual love and respect, but I highly suspect that’s part of the plot.
Greil (Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance), nominated by Naseem Jamnia
I have a special attachment to Path of Radiance as my first Fire Emblem game, but Greil is a quintessential Sword Dad—not just to Ike, but to all of the Greil Mercenaries, who follow him without question. Greil is grouchy, he’s not communicative with either of his children (but is definitely nicer to Mist), he’s a legendary fighter, and he hides a terrible secret that involves him killing his wife! Also, he like, carries a way-too-big-how-on-earth-do-you-manage-that axe because he destroyed his sword hand in penance for his sins. AND THEN, because all that’s not enough, HE DIES IN HIS SON’S ARMS. The boy/man he’s trained to take over the Greil Mercenaries, except no one believes he’s ready, because why would he entrust his son with the terrible truth rather than maturely sit him down and explain how he went Berserk and killed a bunch of people? I mean, woof. Talk about heavy. And Ike is one of the most beloved Fire Emblem characters, and why is that? Because he had the ultimate Sword Dad Who Emotionally Pushed Him Away For His Own Safety.
Chrom (Fire Emblem: Awakening and more), nominated by Naseem Jamnia
I have a thing for Chrom, especially those shoulder blades, but let’s take a moment to admire the Dadness that he is. (I mean, the Sword part should be obvious; Falchion is in several Fire Emblem games.) Just look at the name of his group of soldiers: The Shepherds, except really they’re all the sheep and Chrom is leading them around. Everyone looks up to him, from Lissa and Emmeryn to Flavia and Basilio. And, of course, Chrom is actually a dad. When he unknowingly fights Lucina early in the game, he asks her where she learned how to fight, and you know what she says? HER FATHER. I CANNOT, people.
Also, the Fire Emblem Wiki says Chrom breaks the most things out of anyone during practice, so that alone should qualify him to be on this list.
So who do you think is the dadliest Sword Dad? Sound off below, and we’ll follow up on a piece with the winners!
Editor’s note 1/7/2019: There’s a Twitter battle for best Sword Dad going on right now! Each round will be open to votes for 24 hours, so move fast!
Madison Butler writes about advertising by day and about video games the rest of the time. She can usually be found crying about Final Fantasy and Nier: Automata on Twitter @madisonrbutler.