If your TV show has a special young orphan in desperate need of a fearsome caregiver you know what to do. You call Pedro Pascal. Between The Mandalorian and The Last of Us, he has firmly entrenched himself as pop culture’s go-to surrogate dad. But if you could only rely on one them, who would you choose: Din Djarin or Joel Miller? Which Pedro padre is the preeminent papa is the difficult question my editors posed to me, a parent myself. Only, I’ve never hunted a single bounty, killed a giant fungus monster, or traveled to either Wyoming or Tatooine. So to settle this fictional father showdown, I’m going to pit these Pedro Pascal characters head-to-head with specific traits you’d hope to see out of any good dad whether they live in a galaxy far, far away or a dystopian monster wasteland. Because kids everywhere need the same things.
What are those traits? We’re using this excellent list of exemplary parental qualities as our categories, along with an extra one I promise every good parent needs.
(Note: We’re only judging Joel based on Pedro Pascal’s version of the character. The Last of Us video game franchise—especially Part II—has no bearing on this daddy duel.)
Din Djarin dedicated his life to walking Mandalore’s ancient Way. Yet he loves his son so much he willingly removed his helmet to show Grogu his face, making himself an Apostate in the process. That’s really tough to top. But Joel did exactly that when he doomed all of mankind to save Ellie’s life. He chose her over literally everyone else on the planet. He then gave her plausible deniability about what he’d done so she didn’t have to live with that guilt. That’s love. Was that right or wrong? Impossible to say. But what is possible is naming a winner in this category.
Children need praise and encouragement, obviously. Less obvious is who gets the nod here. This might sound like another Joel category on the surface, because he not only listens to Ellie’s needs he also frequently compliments, encourages, and soothes her. But Din is petty supportive, too. He found a Jedi master to to train Grogu, gave him his blessing to continue his training under Luke Skywalker despite how much it broke his heart, then welcomed back Grogu when the Child chose to be with his dad instead. Plus, you know, there’s the whole keeping him safe from an evil empire thing. That counts, too. That definitely counts.
Din spends half his time telling Grogu what not to do. Yet we’ve seen how ineffective he is at setting limits. The little green guy still eats too many cookies, plays with parts of the ship he shouldn’t, noshes on frog eggs, and “squeezies” Anzellans. Meanwhile, Joel made it clear to Ellie she is not allowed to wander off, lest a Clicker tear her apart. And since no Clicker tore her apart, Joel did a pretty good job setting literal limits.
Being a Role Model
Joel has a temper and is quick to violence. Also, he sure did murder a whole lot of innocent people in his past. So…uh…yeah, we’re giving this one to the honorable, far more in-control Din Djarin. By a lot.
Has Din taught Grogu anything? Grogu is 50 years old and doesn’t even know his Aurebesh alphabet yet! But do you see them practicing their letters or learning how to count? Meanwhile, Joel gives Ellie history lessons and shows her how to safely operate firearms. Normally that last thing would be so, so, so bad, but in a dystopian world full of monsters that’s like teaching a normal kid how to do laundry. (Speaking of, Joel should probably teach Ellie how to get blood and dead fungal vines out of clothes.)
Providing a Range of Experiences
This one is kind of unfair. There’s not exactly a wide range of experiences you can offer a child in a dying world where survival is your only task every day. Plus, Joel doesn’t even always have a truck, let alone a jetpack or a spaceship that makes planet-hopping easy. If he did we know for sure he’d take Ellie to the Moon, but until that happens Din wins this one by default.
Joel loved Ellie enough to ask Tommy to keep her safe when he knew his brother was better prepared to do so. But he respected Ellie enough to let her ultimately make that decision. Did he undo all of that by not letting her know the truth about her immunity? Maybe, but you could also argue he respected her enough to let her live it without guilt. As for Din, he let Grogu decide himself wehther to live as either a Jedi or a Mandalorian. He then respected his child’s choice when he changed his mind. This… this is a hard one.
After lengthy consideration I have to go with Joel. The difference is how many time we saw him respond to Ellie’s emotional needs on a level Din hasn’t had to because of Grogu’s relative age. Joel respects Ellie’s feelings and pain in a way that is pretty moving, especially because we know Joel himself is not always in control of his. Treating your child as their own person with their own emotional maturity is the ultimate sign of respect.
This is my own addition to these categories, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a father it’s that being a good dad is often about having patience. Kids don’t always do what you want, let alone when you want. And you never stop being a parent. You’re on the job 24/7, no matter how tired, sick, or busy you ae. So it’s easy to be a good dad when everything is going right and your child is behaving. But the real test comes when they just threw applesauce on the wall while the doorbell is ringing and you’re on the phone with the doctor because you’ve been sick for three days.
And it’s pretty obvious which Pedro Pascal dad has more patience. It’s the one without the severe anger issues capable of saying very hurtful things.
Am I a good dad? I certainly hope so. I try to be everyday. But am I a dummy because I added an eighth category and ended up with a tie on a list I fully controlled? Certainly. because now I need a final, bonus tie-breaker trait to settle this. Fortunately I know just what that is.
Not Always Wearing a Helmet So Your Kid Can Actually See You
EDGE AND WINNER OF THE PEDRO PASCAL DAD BATTLE: Joel from The Last of Us
Don’t take it personally, though Din. This ruling might change after we see more of both your fictional dads in action.
Plus, no matter what happens on The Mandalorian, you’ll always be a better father than this guy.
For the record, Oberyn was the coolest Pedro Pascal dad.
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.(Or Pedro Pascal’s dad characters.)