The 7 Best Dads in TV History 

Father’s Day is almost here, and we’re celebrating with the best TV dads in TV history.

Whether we openly acknowledge it or not, dads are an important part of almost everyone’s lives, providing some much-needed guidance, helpful advice, and a healthy supply of cheesy jokes throughout our childhoods. Lightening the mood with their affable good humor yet also supplying a shoulder to cry on when facing a difficult situation, dads are used to supporting their families through thick and thin, perhaps even sacrificing their own happiness for the sake of their loved ones’ future.

As an extension of their real-world counterparts, television dads retain most of the core qualities people associate with kind-hearted fathers. Though these TV dads might scream or shout at their rambunctious children, they’re also ready to put their lives and limbs on the line for their kids’ well-being.

Homer Simpson (The Simpsons)


To this day, it’s hard to think of a TV dad whose fame or popularity surpasses the donut-loving patriarch of the Simpson family, Homer Simpson. A lazy, absent-minded, middle-class dad whose idea of a fun time is either spending a night out at Moe’s Tavern or cramming his head with mindless television shows, Homer nevertheless demonstrates love and dedication to his family whenever they need him most. Whether settling into a job he despises for his children’s future or preventing his boss from stealing his youngest daughter’s favorite toy, Homer perhaps isn’t the most doting father in all of pop culture–but the love he holds for his family is beyond reproach.

Tony Soprano (The Sopranos)


Don’t get us wrong, we’re not going to go ahead and describe Tony Soprano as an altogether good person. Like virtually every character on The Sopranos, Tony’s inner nature is torn apart by inner conflict, leading this New Jersey-based crime boss to alternate between paternal warmth at home and unfeeling callousness in the office. But if the road to hell is paved with good deeds, Tony is the ultimate bricklayer on that ever-expanding highway. Though capable of performing monstrous acts of cruelty in his professional line of work, Tony’s entire life revolves around his family, with few things rivaling the endearing love he holds for his wife and two children.

Andy Taylor (The Andy Griffith Show)


The archetypical TV dad for a generation of viewers, almost every fictional father in the decades following The Andy Griffith Show owes a debt of gratitude to Griffith’s smooth-talking, small-town sheriff. The widowed father to a young son and a pillar of support for his community, Andy Taylor always appeared ready with a kind word and cathartic piece of advice for anyone who seemed to need it. From ruminating about the facts of life with his son Opie to listening to his best friend’s rambling stories, Andy personified the down-to-earth father figure of the 1960s, right down to his undying love for fishing and quirky recurring lines.

Archie Bunker (All in the Family)


In contrast to the compassionate personal philosophies of Andy Taylor, Archie Bunker came across as the complete antithesis of his fictional predecessor. Whereas Taylor was known for his worldly perspective and sympathetic point of view, All in the Family ushered in a far grouchier version of the middle-class father figure with the infamous curmudgeon, Archie. A foul-tempered Baby Boomer often at odds with the counter cultural movement of the 1970s, Archie’s cynical worldview provided All in the Family with many of its most pointed laughs. Though he was quick to dispense mocking words when it came to his in-laws’ left-wing politics, Archie also routinely showed a softer side to his character, even if he had trouble expressing it openly to his surrounding family members.

Phil Dunphy (Modern Family)


The heart and soul of Modern Family’s Dunphy brood, Phil Dunphy is a man who clearly loves his family–almost, perhaps, to a fault. A fun-loving real estate agent who prides himself on his energetic sense of humor and knowledgeable parenting skills, Phil is the kind of guy who puts his family before everything else in life. Immediately dropping everything whenever his kids or wife came calling, Phil’s heart was always in the right place, with this California-dwelling dad taking every chance to spend quality time with his family–even if his attempts to do so often backfired, causing only further embarrassment for his loved ones.

Frank Costanza (Seinfeld)


With parents as dysfunctional as Frank and Estelle, it’s no wonder George Costanza grew into the shallow, self-centered, anxiety-riddle adult we know and love in Seinfeld. While Estelle certainly stunted her child’s growth with her lack of maternal affection, Frank probably deserves more of the blame for just how horribly George turned out in the long run. 

An eccentric New Yorker prone to violent fits of rage, whenever Frank appears on Seinfeld, it’s only a matter of time before he’s dramatically throwing up his hands and screaming his head off in anger. Whether bickering with his wife or awkwardly describing the logistics behind bra sizes to his middle-aged son, Frank takes the cake for the most memorable father of 1990s television, terrorizing audiences throughout the decade.

Red Forman (That ‘70s Show)


On the surface, Red Forman is the kind of dad most people would never want to have. An overly-strict, straight-faced authoritarian known for keeping his emotions bottled up, Red appears as the iron-willed symbol of conservative parenting in That ‘70s Show, forever striving to keep his kids out of trouble. For all his threatening words and harsh punishments, however, beneath Red’s coarse, frowning surface is a parental figure who truly loves and cares for his children and their closest friends. While he rarely says “I love you” to his teenage son Eric, Red’s heartfelt actions speak louder than mere words alone.

About the author

Richard Chachowski

Richard Chachowski is an entertainment and travel writer who has written for such publications as Fangoria, Wealth of Geeks, Looper, Screen Rant, Sportskeeda, and MDLinx, among many others. He received his BA from The College of New Jersey and has been a professional writer since 2020.