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The Mandalorian vs. Joel Miller: Who’s The Best Pedro Pascal Dad?

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It’s easy to see why everyone loves Pedro Pascal. He’s handsome, funny, a human rights advocate, and a fantastic actor; perfecting the reluctant but caring sci-fi father figure through his two most prominent roles: Joel Miller in HBO’s The Last of Us and Din Djarin, aka The Mandalorian. But who is truly the best father between the two? In order to figure this out, let’s examine their actions through four distinct categories associated with good fatherhood: protecting, providing, caretaking, and loving their children.

Protecting

The Mandalorian
The Mandalorian

Let’s start with protection. The worlds of The Last of Us and The Mandalorian are dangerous ones; so a good father needs to be especially good in this category. In The Mandalorian, the titular hero is capable of taking down everyone from Stormtroopers and fellow bounty hunters in the name of keeping Grogu safe, with his enemies usually having a numbers advantage and/or comparable combat skills, weapons, and armor.

His one negative mark here is losing Grogu to the Dark Troopers in Season 2; but he had no way of seeing them coming as they came from the air while he was in a heated battle with Stormtroopers on the ground. As for Joel, he’s a skilled marksman and combatant, but the threats he’s facing aren’t as numerous or capable. Moreover, Ellie is clearly able to defend herself before Joel’s training, as seen when she took down that clicker during Episode 7’s flashback. As such, Joel doesn’t have as much work here as Mando does. Where Joel does have the advantage is how he protects Ellie from the world’s horrors. He makes Ellie go into another room when he has to kill someone in Episode 4 and frequently laments how unfair it is that someone her age has to go through this. Mando, on the other hand, constantly puts Grogu in dangerous situations and even murders four people in front of him during Season 3’s first episode. I would say Joel and Mando are on equal footing here, but in different ways.

Round 1: Tied

Providing

Joel saves Ellie in TLOU's nerve-racking season finale
Joel saves Ellie in TLOU’s nerve-racking season finale

In terms of providing, Mando has the advantage at first glance. He gets consistent, well-paying work as a bounty hunter, he and Grogu are never at a loss for food or shelter, and when he’s separated from Grogu during Book of Boba Fett, he’s working even harder to provide for his eventual return; commissioning the Armorer to make a protective vest for him. However, he seemingly refuses to find work outside of bounty hunting. And that job isn’t exactly known for a child-friendly environment.

In Season 3, Karga offers him legitimate work as Navarro’s marshall and Mando turns it down due to his religious obligations. The living arrangements Joel can provide may be sparse, but that’s more to do with the world around them than his own behavior. In fact, during the pilot, we learn that Joel worked as a contractor before the outbreak and that his skills in that field have not diminished since; demonstrating that he’s a capable provider even without such high stakes. As a result, the advantage goes to Joel here. 

Round Two: Joel

Caretaking

A still from The Mandalorian Season 3
A still from The Mandalorian Season 3

Caretaking is harder to nail down for these two. With The Mandalorian and The Last of Us both being more focused on action, it’s hard to find moments with Mando and Joel taking care of their children that aren’t just protecting them from danger or providing them food and shelter; which we’ve already covered. However, these moments are present if you look hard enough. For example, from Season 2 onwards, we see Mando teaching Grogu about his ship and how it works; as well how to navigate the galaxy.

We also see Mando comforting Grogu when he’s scared; such as in the Season 3 opener when a newly resurrected IG-11 attempts to kill Grogu. A similar situation occurs in Episode 8 of The Last of Us, where Joel comforts Ellie after she was kidnapped and nearly sexually assaulted by a cult leader. And just like Mando, Joel is constantly teaching Ellie about the world before the outbreak, the way clickers work, and how to use weaponry and defend herself in a life-or-death scenario. So, once again, they are on relatively equal footing.

Round 3: Tie

Loving Their Children

the last of us 2
Ellie and Joel

Also Read: The Last of Us Review – An Expert Level Video Game

Finally, let’s discuss how much these two love their respective children. Now, love is a very powerful, personal, and subjective thing. Not everyone is going to interpret a seemingly loving act as such and there may be plenty of valid reasons for that. In Joel’s case, you could argue that his actions stem not from love, but from a selfish desire to replace his biological daughter. Ellie herself argues this at one point.

But I believe Joel genuinely cares for Ellie as her own person. As mentioned above, he’s extremely sympathetic about what she’s had to go through and is constantly trying to teach her how to more effectively navigate the world, horrors and all. Despite his initial reluctance to let her accompany him, Joel becomes so attached to Ellie that he comes back to rescue her when he could’ve easily left.

On the other hand, Mando displayed no such reluctance. His mission may have been to kill or dispose of “the asset,” but one look at Grogu made him a devoted father straight away; shooting IG-11 without hesitation in order to protect him. And that love and devotion only grows throughout the series; with Mando even sacrificing that relationship, if only briefly, in Season 2’s finale because going with Luke is what’s best for Grogu and that’s all he really wants. Putting the needs of your child before your own is Good Parenting 101 in my opinion; so while Joel definitely loves Ellie, the point still goes to Mando.

Round 4: Mando

End Results: Tied

So, through this examination, we’ve discovered that Mando is arguably more devoted to his child, Joel is an arguably better provider, and the two are even regarding protecting and caretaking. Which means the points are tied. So, who’s the best dad then? Well, it depends on what you’re looking for in a good parent. For me, that’s someone who’s always trying to do the best for their child because they love them deeply and unconditionally. And of these two, I think Mando best exemplifies this definition. He protects Grogu as much as possible, only wants what’s best for him, and has clearly loved him as far back as their first meeting. This doesn’t make Joel a bad dad. Given the circumstances, he’s a great one. But when it comes to the best Pedro Pascal dad, Mando comes out on top. 

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Written by Callie Hanna

Callie Hanna is an up-and-coming writer, aspiring actor, and full-time nerd. She grew up in a small town in Delaware and was instilled with a love for superheroes, science fiction, and all things geeky from an early age. When she's not catching up with her comically large backlog of movies, games, shows, and comics, Callie can be found working, writing, chatting with friends, hanging out with her girlfriend, or browsing the dying husk of Twitter.com under @MegaNerd98.