Dads are held to a really low standard. As long as they can spend an hour with their child in the room and change the occasional diaper, they’re praised as being the greatest dad in the world. The mothers are the real heroes and they don’t get anywhere near enough praise for it. But the role of the father is still pretty important if it’s done right and they dedicate themselves to their kids and listen to them and spend time with them and bond with them. Here are 10 dads from TV shows who we wish we’d had to raise us through our childhood.
10. Bob Belcher
Out of all the animated shows on the Fox network, Bob’s Burgers doesn’t get the viewers that other shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy get, but it should. It’s one of the most underrated shows on television right now. It probably gets less attention because it’s not as loud or as outrageous as those shows, but it’s just as funny. It’s the rightful successor to King of the Hill in that it focuses on real people and real situations in order to get laughs. Its lead character Bob is a great father, too. If something bad happens to him, he doesn’t lose his mind and start yelling and breaking things like Homer Simpson or Peter Griffin would. He just keeps his cool and rolls with the punches. Whenever he teaches one of his kids how to ride a bike, he cries. He cried when he taught Tina and he cried when he taught Gene, and he was determined not to cry when he taught Louise how to ride a real bike and get her off her tricycle – but he couldn’t. He made it for about four seconds before crying his eyes out. That is the mark of a truly committed and loving father.
9. Hal from Malcolm in the Middle
The family in Malcolm in the Middle, which remained nameless for the entire run of the show, is definitely a matriarchy. The mother of the family, Lois, certainly runs the show when it comes to raising their five kids: Francis, Reese, Malcolm, Dewey, and Jamie (Malcolm is, as the title suggests, in the middle). Lois is a strict, naggy mom played by the brilliant Jane Kaczmarek who takes no prisoners and doesn’t buy any of her sons’ excuses. Hal, meanwhile, is much more lax and chilled out when it comes to dealing with his kids, which may seem like he’s lazy, but his methods are actually good. Lois is crazy. All she does is yell at her kids and nag them and that’s not good for them. Hal gives them the freedom to be themselves and figure out who they are as they grow older, and at a certain point, if push really does come to shove, Hal has shown himself to be able to be strict and discipline his kids. Also, a comical alternate ending for the series finale of Breaking Bad sees Hal waking up from a dream in which he was a chemistry teacher who teamed up with one of his old students to become a meth lord when he gets diagnosed with lung cancer, so he gets bonus points for that.
8. Hank Hill
Apart from leading one of the smartest and sharpest series in the history of television and selling “propane and propane accessories,” Hank Hill is one of the best fictional fathers from the small screen. He has been described as “a man on the spot, torn between squabbling, widening extremes,” and as a father to his son Bobby, he has been compared to a better version of Archie Bunker, saying that he sets himself apart from the less progressive parenting methods of Archie with his “ability to acknowledge that the values and beliefs he grew up with are no longer sufficient to guide him in his roles as father, husband, friend, and employee.” The Economist described Hank as one of the wisest people on television and he was also included in Texas Monthly magazine’s list of the twenty “most impressive, intriguing, and influential Texans.” He’s a fictional character, so he must have made quite an impact to beat out the real, actual human beings who came from Texas that year. When his wife Peggy finally got Hank to tell Bobby he loves him, Bobby admits to feeling like a “big disappointment,” and then Hank has a great moment of parenting – he tells Bobby that he is the one thing in town that has never disappointed him. Wow.
7. Tim Taylor
Towards the end of Home Improvement’s run, Tim Allen became one of the highest paid stars on television with $1 million an episode. It was only fair, since he was starring in one of the most popular shows on the air, his comedy had formed the basis for its sense of humor, and he was a father figure to most of America’s boys. His fathering style in the show is tailored to raising boys, since his character Tim Taylor on the show has three of them and no daughters. Tim knows everything there is to know about everything that a middle class suburban father such as himself should be interested in: lawnmowers, auto mechanics, and especially tools. He keeps a roof over his kids’ heads with a TV show about tools. No matter what ugly real life drama was going on with the child actors who played the kids behind the scenes of the show, Tim Taylor was always a great father. He never got angry or yelled at his kids. If they did something wrong, he would sit them down and talk to them on their level. And he never gave one of his sons more attention over the other – no middle child syndrome in the Taylor household!
6. Uncle Phil
Uncle Phil wasn’t just a great father to his own children, who he raised to be smart and sophisticated and hard working (except for Hilary, of course, who is a spoilt brat, but even she eventually gets a job and learns the value of hard work). When his nephew Will moved in to his house in Bel Air, he became a father figure to him, too. Will arrived in the pilot episode as a rebellious youth in need of some authority and guidance in his life – and that’s where Uncle Phil stepped in to give it to him. Uncle Phil is a judge and therefore in one of the best paid and most highly respected and intelligent professions in the world. He is in the upper class and owns a huge house and is very wealthy, and lives that lifestyle, but as he often reminds Will, he did come from the streets and has dealt with the impact of racism in his life. He hasn’t forgotten where he came from and he will never let his wealth change him. He doesn’t show that things bother him as outwardly or as aggressively as Will does and Will can learn from that. He’s a very admirable man.
5. Michael Bluth
Michael Bluth and his son George Michael have had a bit of a rocky relationship in the last couple of seasons, since they were dating the same girl and Michael found out about it and kept it a secret and then George Michael found out about all this deceit and punched his dad in the face and they’ve never been the same again. But ignore that. They’re adults now. What was important was what their relationship was like when George Michael was a young, impressionable child who needed a father figure in his life. In the earlier seasons, before George Michael was an adult, Michael was always thinking about his son. He kept him wayward and scared of drugs and working hard and always studying and being honest and doing the right thing. It’s a shame that it went so downhill for them when George Michael grew up and they were just a pair of adults out in the dating world, because Michael was a great parent to George Michael when he was a kid, and managed to raise him as a single parent after he lost his wife, George Michael’s mother, which couldn’t have been easy on either of them.
4. Dre Johnson
Andre “Dre” Johnson was created to be a positive representation of black people on television to combat all the negative stereotypes that often get portrayed in the media, usually by writers or producers who are white. That’s why Kenya Barris created Black-ish in the first place – because black people in real life aren’t anything like the stereotypes that you normally get on TV. Dre is a good guy. He’s a good father to his four kids, he and his wife Bow provide for them, and he is always available to talk to them and support them whenever they need it. Take the basketball episode as an example, the one that’s shot in a mockumentary style. Dre gets swept up in the game and the competition and trying to make his son the best player out there that he loses sight of what’s really important: his son’s happiness. But when he realizes this, he decides to let Jack do whatever makes him happy. Wherever he finds his talents, Dre will support him all the way. Black-ish is full of sweet parenting moments like this. Dre might get blinded by his own emotions sometimes, but he’ll always come around and his love for his family will always triumph.
3. Homer Simpson
Okay, Homer Simpson is not a great role model for fathers. If you’re going to model yourself after someone when you’re raising your kids, there are a million and one dads you could look to before resorting to Homer Simpson. Admittedly, he is not the perfect father. But despite all the many mistakes he makes in his parenting, Homer does love his kids and would do anything for them, and as much as he might let them down sometimes, he always makes it up to them. The whole reason that he puts up with Mr. Burns at the power plant is for Maggie, remember? And his sweetest moment as a father comes right after the flashbacks to Bart and Lisa’s first words where they never call Homer “Daddy” as their first word – they always say “Homer” instead – and then he puts Maggie to bed and tells her, “As soon as kids start talking, they start talking back,” so she shouldn’t rush her first word, and then when he leaves the room, she takes out her pacifier and says, “Daddy.” It’s such a beautiful moment that would bring any father to the brink of tears. That’s what makes Homer a great father.
2. Terry Jeffords
When Brooklyn Nine Nine first began airing, Terry Crews’ character Sgt. Jeffords was simply a humungous man who could be made fun of for his giant, rippling muscles and enormous physique. However, as the years have gone by, his character has been developed. He is a family man with a wife, two twin daughters, and another daughter at home who he adores. Terry would do anything for his family. He likes yogurt and he drives a station wagon and he gets pushed around by his brother and he sucks up to his boss and he’s been scared off of firing a gun and he refers to himself in the third person. No matter how huge and formidable his workouts might make him, he’ll always be an adorable softie. And that makes him a fantastic father. He’s not just one of those dads who will occasionally change a diaper or hold his child while he watches sports – he’s one of the most hands on and dedicated fathers in the television landscape. If one of his daughters loses her favorite toy, he’ll retrace his steps all night trying to find it. We’ve gotten to see more of Terry as a great father as the seasons have gone by.
1. Phil Dunphy
Modern Family’s Phil Dunphy is the undefeated champion of fatherhood. As far as TV dads go, he’s the Muhammad Ali. He’s the best of the best. If you’re going to model your parenting after any character from television, then model it after Phil Dunphy. He is a pioneer of a parenting technique that he calls “peerenting,” which combines talking to your kids like they’re your peers with acting around them like you’re their parent. It has worked wonders, since he’s raised a bunch of a great kids: one of them is a genius, one of them is a self-made entrepreneur with major ambitions, and the other isn’t the brightest bulb, but he is a very sweet guy. His wife Claire calls him “the kid I’m married to,” but that’s because he’s down on their level. His attempts to be cool and hip for his kids by learning the lyrics and dance moves to the songs from High School Musical might make his kids cringe, but hey, at least he’s trying! He won’t even swear around his kids. Instead, he’ll yell out something like, “Sweet potato fries!” or “Chicken in a basket!” Phil never stops trying to bond with his kids – it’s beautiful to watch.