"Who is Sterling Archer's father?" It's the largest looming question in the Archer universe. The mystery has been haunting Sterling himself since the Season 1 finale, "Dial M for Mother," where Malory revealed that Navy Cross-winning fighter pilot John Fitzgerald "Black Jack" Archer, who supposedly died when Sterling was a child, was all a figment of her imagination.
And there has been so much additional intrigue -- as well as Malory sex partners -- revealed since then the possibilities can often be hard to track. So with the help of Executive Producer Matt Thompson we've put together this collection of candidates, complete with Matt's own thoughts and some form of a paternity verdict decided by me.
Spoilers to follow. Candidates in chronological order of appearance. Images via Floyd County. Previously: The Ladies of Archer: A Comprehensive Guide.
The former head of the KGB has long been rumored to be Sterling's father thanks to a 40 year ongoing relationship with Malory. So much so that Sterling went to Russian searching for answers, only to be captured by the KGB, only to be rescued by Barry Dylan, only for the KGB to turn Barry into a cyborg, only for Barry to take over the KGB and blow up a defected Nikolai so that we never find out if he's the real dad for sure. Phew.
MATT THOMPSON SAYS: "Jakov being the father is possible. He is dead, but what was on that video tape message to Sterling?"
RESEMBLANCE FACTOR: Moderate to moderately high (depending on abundance of wifebeaters).
LIKELIHOOD: High. Jakov has always been a prime suspect and the long-term affair makes sense.
The head of ODIN has regularly professed his love for Malory, has been named as one of Sterling's potential fathers, and his relationship with Malory spans back a long time, although exactly how long is unclear.
MATT THOMPSON SAYS: "Still possible. It would explain Sterling's arrested development." (See what he did there?)
RESEMBLANCE FACTOR: Low. Sterling has way better hair.
LIKELIHOOD: Medium. One of three candidates Malory offers up when she first confesses that John Fitzgerald Archer is a scam, but Trexler hasn't been around for quite some time and the odds appear to be against him.
Malory hires former ISIS agent Rip Riley to retrieve Sterling in the "Heart of Archness" miniseries, where it is revealed that Rip had a brief sexual relationship with Malory. The details are hazy outside of Rip's inability to fill Malory's needs, but there's still a slim possibility he could be dad.
MATT THOMPSON SAYS: "Noooooope. You are not the father!"
RESEMBLANCE FACTOR: Low, even with matching shiners.
LIKELIHOOD: Zero percent chance.
Prior to actually dating Malory, Burt Reynolds would have been Sterling's father of choice, but much like Levar Burton showing up, you can't disappoint a picture.
MATT THOMPSON SAYS: "How cool would this be? It would make complete sense with Archer's driving skills in particular. It's possible."
RESEMBLANCE FACTOR: Often Uncanny
LIKELIHOOD: Low. As far as we know Malory and Burt did not cross paths until much later in life. For the purposes of this study...
Savio Mascalzoni appeared in Season 3's incredible "Lo Scandalo" where it was revealed he and Malory had maintained a long-term, fetish-escalating affair. It should be mentioned that the man died -- at the hand's of Malory -- in a zentai suit, sporting a buttplug.
MATT THOMPSON SAYS: "Not 100% ruled out. He has the hair for it. And we did allude heavily to Archer's love of all things Italian in that episode."
RESEMBLANCE FACTOR: High. Look at that hair!
LIKELIHOOD: Low. Malory supposedly killed the PM after years of plotting as retribution for the death of her ex-lover, who could also potentially be Sterling's father. So for the purposes of this study...
Billed as "The World's Greatest Drummer," Buddy Rich (not Gene Krupa), is one of three possible fathers Malory identifies to Sterling in "Dial M for Mother." But even Malory acknowledges he is the least likely of the three.
MATT THOMPSON SAYS: "Not likely. Never trust a drummer."
RESEMBLANCE FACTOR: Low. Those teeth.
LIKELIHOOD: Low. Despite Malory never being able to say no to a drummer, Buddy Rich seems to be in the clear.
Of all the candidates we've been introduced to so far Jakov and Trexler seem to be the most likely to have brought the world's foremost prep school lacrosse player turned super spy into existence. There's also the very high possibility that we have not been introduced to Sterling's biological dad yet, but at least we're all caught up on where Sterling himself thinks he stands.