Have you ever seen that movie with Gerard Depardieu, My Father The Hero? Dads are supposed to be just that—the hero. Dad is the loveable head of the family who provides protection, guidance and laughter. Dad can show you how to do really neat stuff that, when you’re a kid, makes you suspicious that maybe he’s actually magic, and that when you’re 18 he’ll finally reveal to you that you’re half vampire, from his side. Dads can be as devastating as they are wonderful, and yet there’s an inexplicable desire to never let dad down.
The 90s was a really great time for dads—a dad heavy era where daggy dads, single dads, blathering idiot dads and cartoon dads forged timeless popularity in popular culture. Here is a list of my favorite 90s TV dads—from the ones I wished were mine to the ones I’m glad weren’t.
1. Danny Tanner, Full House
The ultimate 90s TV dad—the awkward widower struggling to bring up three unruly daughters in a ‘Full House.’ As a small girl I always sympathized with D.J. and didn’t understand why dad wouldn’t let her go out with boys and stuff.
2. Jesse Katsopolis, Full House
While I’m on the Full House tangent, let’s talk about Uncle Jesse. Uncle Jesse does the dirty with Becky (who I used to think was the prettiest lady in all the world) and gets to be a baby daddy too. Even in my tender, pre-pubescent years I was startlingly aware of how painfully good-looking Uncle Jesse was. DILF.
3. Tim ‘The Tool Man’ Taylor, Home Improvement
The most adorably un-cool 90s dad—he always got everything so wrong and his jokes were just so… dad. He came complete with his own father figure, in the form of a faceless neighbor who didn’t seem to do much more than perve over the Taylors’ back fence and impart wisdom. Oh, and JTT; I’m just sayin’.
4. Carl Winslow, Family Matters
The constantly stressed dad, Carl Winslow, was high strung and plagued by the insufferable Urkel. When I was a kid I used to pull my pants up to just below my barely existent boobs, wear my mum’s glasses, hunch myself inwards and shuffle around behind her repeating “did I do that?” over and over again in my most high pitched nasal voice. I’m still surprised I survived my youth.
5. Maxwell Sheffield, The Nanny
“So over the bridge from Flushing to the Sheffield’s door, she was there to sell make-up but the father saw more—she had style, she had flare she was there—that’s how she became the nanny!” I’m not proud of the fact that I know all the words to that song but chances are you do too so shut the fuck up. Also Maxwell, what a dope.
6. Randy Marsh, South Park
South Park didn’t really begin cashing in on the Randy Marsh factor until after the 90s, but even from his humble beginnings at Cartman’s clubhouse party, Randy Marsh took out the title of funniest 90s TV dad by a long shot. Some favorite post 90s moments include the Cloverfield episode and the one where they lose the internet.
7. Dr. Dick Solomon, 3rd Rock From The Sun
Sometimes I thought my dad was an alien too. Also, John Lithgow—what a great time.
8. Frank Lambert, Step By Step
What a good theme song, and what a dashingly handsome all-American dad! Step by Step made me want to wear all white sneakers with white ankle socks pulled up over my ankles and scrunchies, crimp my hair, and join a family, any family, that was at least 6 times bigger than mine.
9. Rev. Eric Camden, 7th Heaven
What a fucking douche of a show and a fucking douche of a family. I still watched it though. All the time. And not just for shits and giggles. I actually watched 7th Heaven because even though I hated it I loved it. And I loved the old Reverend and his backwards ways and how he always struggled with his children’s ‘progressive’ decisions (what, you want to wait until you’re 24 to get married? I call shenanigans!). I also loved it when there was the implication of a sex scene between the Camden parents.
10. Jack Geller, Friends
The inappropriate dad—Jack always had those one liners that you could blink and miss, but that made him seem older and more senile than I think he was supposed to be.
BONUS DAD: Sandy Cohen, The O.C.
Unfortunately Sandy Cohen missed the era of the dad ever so slightly, but I thought he deserved an honorable mention for being THE BEST TV DAD IN THE HISTORY OF TV DADS. From his funky eyebrows to his do-gooder ways; his hot wife to his constant rationality with his children, my feelings towards Sandy were confusing at best. On one hand, I really wanted him to be my dad, but on the other, I just really wanted him to fuck me. Keep up the good work, S-Co.