Dads are obsessed with Bluey's dad, Bandit, who drops everything to play with his kids and constantly makes mistakes

Dads are obsessed with Bluey's dad, Bandit, who drops everything to play with his kids and constantly makes mistakes
The Heeler family from "Bluey."ABC
  • The Emmy-award-winning cartoon "Bluey" is a favorite of many parents.
  • The dad on the show, Bandit Heeler, depicts modern fatherhood for many.

"I'm not taking advice from a cartoon dog," proclaims cartoon dog Bandit Heeler.

Bandit is the dad on "Bluey," an Emmy-award-winning children's cartoon from Australia that has taken the world by storm. Bandit has helped redefine fatherhood for many and continues to inspire thousands of real-life dads around the world. Bandit and his wife, Chili, are caring and wonderful, but also imperfect, parents.

Each seven-minute episode focuses on playtime and imagination while portraying flawed, complex characters.

This isn't a show just for kids, and it's brought real-life parents together in a way few shows can.

In fact, Bandit Heeler has many fathers reassessing their own parenting. Joe Brumm, the creator of "Bluey," said through a BBC communications liaison, "Bluey is based on my own experiences of parenting. I didn't set out to create the Heelers as the perfect family, I just wanted to show what it's really like when you're raising kids and you get dragged into their crazy games and just go with it."


The character is a reflection of modern dads

Brumm, who largely works from home, is heavily involved in his two daughters' playtime. Bandit, in a similar vein, is shown as the primary caregiver of Bluey and her little sister, Bingo. He is an archaeologist — a dog who digs bones. In the show, though, he always stops what he's doing to engage with his kids.

The bar for media dads is admittedly pretty low. They're often bad, absent, abusive, or bumbling buffoons. Peppa Pig's father is the butt of every joke, Homer Simpson is a clown, and so on. Bandit, on the other hand, was voted a father of the year (canine category) in 2019 by the Shepherd Centre, an Australian organization for deaf and hearing-impaired children, and is seen by many as a paragon of modern fatherhood. One Facebook group for Bandit dad fans now includes more than 16,000 fathers working together to be better fathers.

Matt Green, a middle-school teacher and father, told Insider: "Bandit's motto of 'Gotta Be Done' is the ultimate engaged dad. Some people see Bandit negatively because he'll stop anything to play with his kids, but I see that as an ideal."

Bandit is different because he's engaged — in fact, all the adults on the show are engaged with their kids. You don't see parents sitting on the sidelines while the kids play; you see parents playing with the kids, even when the parents are exhausted.

For George Watkins, a Texas business owner, the cartoon dad has helped him as a father. "As a busy, older 40-something dad, Bandit has taught me how to play and be a kid, again. He's helped me connect with my daughter in ways that I wasn't before," Watkins said.


Parents are not perfect, and cartoon characters shouldn't be either

Stay-at-home dads around the world praise Bandit for being the primary-caregiving parent on the show.

For stay-at-home dad Tyler Faulkenbury, the character taught him an important lesson. "I feel like Bandit has taught me no parent is perfect, but with effort, we can all be amazing parents for sure," Faulkenbury said.

Justin Rouillon, an Australian radio producer, agreed. "Bandit makes me feel seen. He's not perfect, but showing up and being present with our kids is so worth it," Rouillon said.

The theme of imperfection runs throughout the series. In the episode "Perfect," Bluey wants to give her dad the perfect gift, but discovers that there's no such thing as perfection. In the episode "Dump," Bluey thinks her dad is the best in the world, only to discover he's recycling her old drawings. Bandit confesses he's not the best, but by the episode's end he's accepted as the best to his kids.

Greg Painter, the host of the podcast "Two Bandits Watching Bluey," said: "Bluey has made me a better, more patient dad. I give my daughters time to figure things out, and say, 'Yes, and ...' to keep the fun going."


Keeping the fun going is a key to Bandit's success

While professional psychologists laud the show's focus on play, many miss the deeper connection to theater. The first rule of improvisational theater is "yes, and ..." The episode "Octopus" drives that point home. Another character on the show, Chloe, is frustrated at her father for constantly saying no and says her dad isn't as fun as Bandit. The resolution comes when both Chloe and her dad agree to keep saying "yes, and ..."

Bandit isn't perfect, but he's pretty close.

Dads around the world listen to this cartoon dog for advice. It's gotta be done.

Season three of Bluey will premiere on Disney+ on August 10.