Archimedes was an eccentric but well-meaning man who loved his daughter and wanted her to be happy. He urged her to follow her heart and return to live with Tarzan and, shortly afterwards, he decided to return himself. This shows he had a strong paternal side. He had a good relationship with his son-in-law but also seemed to be slightly paranoid which was shown when he suspected Tarzan might be a spy despite the fact that there was no point in having a spy in the jungle. In the episode "One Punch Mulligan", it is revealed he is somewhat sexist, as shown when Tarzan refused to fight, Porter asked if it had anything to do with Jane and then asked Tarzan who wore the pants in their family, which Tarzan (not understanding he was asking who was the dominant one in the relationship) said no one wore the pants in the family.
In the movie, Archimedes Q. Porter is a professor and scientist who travels to Africa with his daughter, Jane, and their guide, Clayton, to study gorillas. While out exploring (and unaware that Tarzan is watching them from the treetops), Porter discovers that Jane is standing in a gorillas' nest and they soon find more nests and Porter and Jane call it family group but then Clayton spots something in the tree and tries shooting at it, but scares away some birds. Porter and Jane ask him not to shoot because it might be a gorilla away but Clayton says it's not a gorilla and orders that they press on. Porter and Clayton continue into the jungle, but lose Jane and begin searching for her but then they hear noises coming from their campsite and rush to find Jane at camp and everything smashed and ripped apart. Porter embraces Jane happy that his daughter is okay but then Jane begins to tell him and Clayton about how she got attacked by a bunch of baboons and was rescued by Tarzan the Ape Man who left with the gorillas who trashed the camp earlier.
The next day, Jane draws Tarzan on a blackboard and tells Porter that Tarzan walked like a gorilla and when he rescued her he stared at her confused liked he had never seen another human and that Tarzan had such wonderful eyes to which Porter asks jokingly if he should leave Jane and the blackboard alone for a moment. Jane then tells her father that they should find Tarzan because they can learn from him, but Clayton tells Porter not to believe Jane's fantasy but then Tarzan does appear and Porter begins jumping excitedly but then Clayton points his gun at Tarzan but Jane manages to push the gun out of the way causing it to go off and Tarzan turns to Porter saying Clayton thinking that it's the sound of the gunshot. Porter begins to think that Tarzan could be the missing link but Clayton believes that Tarzan could be their link to the gorillas and draws a gorilla on the blackboard to show Tarzan what it is but Tarzan doesn't understand so Porter and Jane decide to teach him themselves ("Strangers Like Me") to which Porter shows Tarzan the different stars and comets through his telescope and shows Tarzan how to ride a unicycle in which Tarzan picks up Porter during the ride.
After this Porter and Jane ask Tarzan to take them and Clayton to the gorillas but Tarzan tells them that he can't because of Kerchak the leader of the Gorillas and Tarzan's Ape Father who has a strong dislike for the humans. Then one day the ship arrives to take Porter, Jane, and Clayton home to London England and Porter refuses to leave until he sees a gorilla. Tarzan decides to show them hia gorilla family while his friends Tantor the elephant and Terk the gorilla distract Kerchak. When Tarzan brings the humans to the gorillas some of them grab Porter and begin giving him a good social grooming. But then Kerchak appears and begins to chase Porter, Jane, and Clayton away but Tarzan manages to hold down his ape father while the humans escape.
The next day Tarzan dresses in his biological father's clothes and decides to return to England with Porter, Jane, and Clayton. Before they board the ship Porter says that famous people in England such as Charles Darwin, Rudyard Kipling, and Queen Victoria will want to meet Tarzan but once they board the ship Tarzan, Porter, and Jane are taken prisoner by the ship's crew who are working for Clayton who wishes to capture Tarzan's ape family and take them to London and sell them for 300 pounds. Inside the brig Porter begins to fill bad for Tarzan's gorilla family being cages and angrily smacks his hand against the wall to which the ship rocks back in forth to which Porter believes that it's his strength but it's Tarzan's elephant friend Tantor along with Terk who rescue them. After being rescued Tarzan, Porter, and Jane rush back and fight off Clayton and his men and rescue Tarzan's gorilla family. Porter and Jane watch sadly as Tarzan is reunited with his ape father Kerchak who tells Tarzan to lead the ape family and then die to which Tarzan leads the gorilla family away. The next day Porter and Jane bid Tarzan goodbye and get into the rowboat and are rowed out to the ship but then Porter tells Jane that she should stay because she loves Tarzan to which Jane hugs her father and jumps out of the rowboat and swims back to Tarzan on shore and then Porter decides to stay and tells the Captain of the Ship to tell everyone back home in London that he never found them and Porter jumps into the water and swims back to Tarzan and Jane. In the end, Porter is seen swinging from a vine along with Tarzan and Jane.
By the time of the television series, both Porters had learned how to speak with the animals much like Tarzan. In earlier episodes, Professor Porter insisted on studying the gorillas while wearing his fur loincloth from the ending of the film. However, at Terk's insistence, he dropped the habit all together.
- When Porter is being shaken upside down by gorillas in the first movie, a stuffed toy of Little Brother can be seen.
- In Tarzan, Professor Porter, on Jane's description of how Tarzan walks, says "Oh, like Aunt Isabelle". Whether Isabelle is his sister or that of his late wife's is unknown.
- Archimedes Q. Porter is one of Nigel Hawthorne's final feature film roles before his death in 2001.
- Professor Porter's fur loincloth seen in the TV series looks different from the one seen in the end of the original film.