Raising children is no small task. I have three little rugrats running around my home on a daily basis and just watching them run, scream, fight, and play is exhausting without even lifting a finger. At the same time, children are an amazing gift who bring joy and unconditional love to our lives. These TV dads were faced with adversity, growing pains, and a whole lot of shenanigans, yet they managed to raise a loving group of TV children while focusing on their own unique styles of parenting.
From the heartfelt life lessons on Full House to the hilarious comical rants of a standup legend, these TV dads have shown us what it’s really like to face parenting head on.
Andy Taylor Shows Us How To Parent On The Andy Griffith Show
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Andy Griffith’s character, Andy Taylor, may very well be the most endearing TV dad of all time. The TV show’s credits feature the single father spending time with his son and the show continues with life lesson’s regularly being dispensed.
Taylor worked a full-time job as the sheriff of Mayberry and then spent time with his son Opie, played masterfully by famed movie director and Happy Days alum, Ron Howard. We’d all be so lucky to have a father like Andy Taylor.
Carl Winslow Shows That Family Matters
Photo Credit: Family Matters / ABC
Imagine working as a police officer on the dangerous streets of Chicago and then going home at the end of a long day to raise three children. Parenting isn’t easy and it becomes even more complicated when you have a meddling neighbor like Steve Urkel to deal with.
Family Matters aired for nine long seasons and during that time Carl showed us that he had enough love for his own children while also helping turn Steve Urkel into a respectable young man. Carl was also often flawed but learned from his mistakes and grew into one of TV’s favorite sitcom dads.
Dan Conner Lit Up The Screen In Roseanne
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Everything about the hit TV series Roseanne could have shouted of despair. Instead, the comic styling of John Goodman and Roseanne Barr created an endearing TV series about the struggles of the poor.
Dan Conner made our list because he faced struggled many parents understand. There were times where he seemed to hate being a father but he always stepped up to offer life lessons to his group of rowdy children. Dan, like many of the dads on our list, showed that parenting isn’t a linear line that everyone tows.
Danny Tanner Was Obsessive And Loving In Full House
Photo Credit: Full House / ABC
Danny Tanner lost his wife and was left to raise three little girls on his own. Thankfully, Uncle Joey and Uncle Jesse stepped up to the plate to help Danny navigate the lives of his three adorable daughters while also dealing with their neighbor Kimmy.
Danny was famous for imparting spot-on knowledge and lessons when his kids routinely got into trouble. We watched each of them grow up in front of our very eyes all while Danny commanded their respect while working a very demanding TV hosting gig.
Frank Lambert Raised A Very Different Group Of Children In Step By Step
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With the divorce rate at 51% in America, there are plenty of mixed families from second marriages living under one roof these days. Frank Lambert found his second love and they combined their household for a total of six children.
Frank was the type of guy to roll with the punches while constantly searching for proof that at least one of his children was up to no good. What made his character so special was his ability to bring the kids together, even though they were all very different.
It’s Scary How Good Of A Father Herman Munster Was In The Munsters
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A TV show about a family of fun-loving monsters living in a quiet neighborhood? The premise of The Munsters might seem silly but the real magic happened when we were invited inside of their home.
Herman Munster may have very well been the creation of Dr. Frankenstein but that’s where the similarities end. Herman was constantly inviting people into his home and attempting to make sure his son Eddie had plenty of friends and good times. Herman put his family above everything else and always made sure Eddie was happy and healthy.
Homer Simpson Is A Bumbling Father Who Somehow Finds His Way In The Simpsons
Photo Credit: The Simpsons / 20th Century Fox Television
Yes, I’m aware that Homer Simpson is quite possibly the dumbest TV dad of all-time but if you step back and examine the incredibly long run of The Simpsons you’ll find a father who has risked his life on countless occasions to protect his children.
He’s a raging alcoholic, he blows way too much of his family’s money, but he’s also incredibly loving and always in search of ways to improve his circumstances. Homer might not understand daughter Lisa’s love of music, art, and education, yet he finds ways to connect with her and see the world through her eyes on a regular basis. That’s all we really ask from a great dad.
Howard Cunningham Taught Respect And Love On Happy Days
Photo Credit: Happy Days / Paramount
Happy Days was the TV show you tuned into if you wanted to experience teenage life at the time or learn a few lessons. Many of those lessons were delivered by family patriarch Howard Cunningham.
An Army vet, hardware store owner, and father, Howard not only raised his own children but imparted knowledge on them and even The Fonz! Howard was so instrumental in the series that he and Fonzie were the only two characters to appear in all 255 episodes.
Jason Seaver Had To Deal With Plenty Of Growing Pains With His Children
Photo Credit: Growing Pains / Warner Bros. Television
Jason Seaver filled a familiar role on our list, raising a gaggle of children while attempting to teach them about life. Alan Thicke so masterfully filled his role that following his death on December 13, 2016, there was a massive outpouring of support from fans all over the world.
My favorite thing about Jason Seaver was his ability to keep a calm and collected head when his children got into big trouble. As a psychiatrist, he always seemed to know exactly what perspective his children needed to hear based on the circumstances surrounding their exploits.
Bernie ‘Mac’ McCullough Proved That Being A Dad Is About Family First, Every Single Time
Photo Credit: Ther Bernie Mac Show / 20th Century Fox Television
I was a huge fan of The Bernie Mac Show during its run. How could you not fall in love with a guy who takes in his sister’s two children when she decides to enter rehab?
Bernie’s character, a comedian with no parenting experience, struggles every day to find a balance between his old life and his new role as a dad. With Bernie Mac leading the way, hilarity ensues. Despite a heavy focus on the comedy aspect of the show, it was Bernie’s ability to comment on being a dad that made this show so amazingly special.
Mike Brady And His Very Brady Bunch
Photo Credit: The Brady Bunch / Paramount Television
Mike Brady came along well before the Step By Step family appeared on the silver screen and he had to deal with three biological children and three adopted kiddos. Mike definitely had plenty of help with a stay-at-home mom and a housekeeper at home.
Unlike many of our TV dads, there were not a lot of times when Mike Brady needed to bail his children out of trouble. His parenting style, instead, focused on dishing out life lessons proactively while dealing out just the right amount of discipline.
Phil Dunphy Is A Modern Dad In Modern Family
Photo Credit: Modern Family / 20th Century Fox Television
As times have changed we’ve seen a shift in the role of the TV dad. Phil Dunphy of Modern Family fame walks a fine line between “cool” dad and dispenser of knowledge for his children.
What touches me the most about Dunphy’s character is his ability to calmly speak to his children while fully accepting the hiccups that come along with living in a big modern family. I also can’t get enough of his awful puns and dad jokes, both of which I am guilty of with my own children on a daily basis.
Philip Banks Was A Brilliant Dad In The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air
Photo Credit: The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air / NBC Productions
Philip Banks was known as “Uncle” Phil in The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air but even to Will Smith’s character, he was a father figure. Phil spent his days as a successful judge and returned home to deal with what was almost some type of scheme created by Will, Carlton, Hilary, or Ashley.
Phil might have one of the biggest hearts I’ve seen on TV. Will was raised in the inner city and arrived as a teen and Phil was tasked with learning to understand Will’s upbringing while simultaneously turning him into a respectable young adult. Sadly, James Avery passed away before a reunion episode could be filmed.
Phillip Drummond Showed Adversity In Diff’rent Strokes
Photo Credit: Diff’rent Strokes / Embassy Telecommunications
Can you imagine losing your wife, then watching your housekeeper die from illness, only after she asked you to care for her two young sons? Phillip Drummond, played by the brilliant Conrad Baines, had to deal with plenty of heartbreak, yet he remained an inspiring character.
Not only did he raise two sons of a different race, a groundbreaking premise at the time of the TV show, he also had a daughter of his own. What touched me most about Drummond was his ability to raise three very different children while still respecting their unique identities and celebrating their heritage.
Red Forman Was Ready With His Foot In That ’70s Show
Photo Credit: That ’70s Show / Carsey-Werner Productions
Red Forman’s character might be famous for his stern parenting style and threatening to put his foot up a certain body part when his son Eric misbehaved, but he was also a surprisingly thoughtful character.
Kurtwood Smith took it upon himself to toughen up his son Eric while preparing him for the real world. Eric eventually fled to Africa to make a difference in the world so Red obviously did something right.
Steven Keaton Raised A Very Opinionated Clan In Family Ties
Photo Credit: Family Ties / Paramount Television
As a child, I was glued to the TV set whenever Michael J. Fox and Michael Gross showed up on the small screen. Steven Keaton was the “cool” dad trying to raise an ultra-conservative son who focused on politics and their general education.
Despite the father-son disconnect over politics, Steven managed to connect with his son while disciplining him whenever shenanigans were discovered. They might not have had a lot in common but Steven Keaton reminded us that parenting is really about always displaying unconditional love.
Tim Taylor Gave Real Power To Parenting In Home Improvement
Photo Credit: Home Improvement / Touchstone Television
I have a friend who is currently raising three young boys and I’ve been able to glimpse into her crazy and hectic life. Tim Taylor, played by Tim Allen, raised three very rambunctious boys who were always getting into trouble.
Tim struggled to connect with his boys at certain times because of their very different attitudes and interests. However, Tim was able to connect when he shared his love of classic cars. He also learned to accept that his young children each wanted to take their own path and by the end of the series, he had embarrassed their difference. He gave hilariously bad advice whenever trying to paraphrase the wisdom imparted to him by his neighbor, Wilson.
Tom Bradford And A Full House In Eight Is Enough
Photo Credit: Eight Is Enough / Lorimar Productions / ABC
Tom Bradford definitely wins my award for being the most overwhelmed yet calming TV dad. Bradford, played by the amazing Dick Van Patten, was raising eight children. At one point he was responsible for all of those kids on his own after the untimely passing of actress Diana Hyland.
Despite all of the adversity he faced, Bradford managed to wrangle his children together while imparting his knowledge on the large brood. What strikes me as most amazing is that he found time individually for his children, that’s a tall task even when only three to four kids are growing up in the same home.
Ward Cleaver Didn’t Leave It To Beaver When Life Lessons Were Needed
Photo Credit: Leave It To Beaver / ABC
Ward Cleaver, played by Hugh Beaumont, was your typical late-1950s and early-1960s dad. His main job was to work and provide for his wholesome American family. When he wasn’t working, it was all about caring for his two young sons, Wally and Beaver.
Ward was known to dispense timeless wisdom and appeared to always be level-headed. Sure, his children engaged in some mischief but he never lost his cool and approached every situation with the attitude that it was a chance to learn an important life lesson.
Ray Barone Proved It Was All About Family In Everybody Loves Raymond
Photo Credit: Everybody Loves Raymond / CBS
Imagine raising a bunch of kids right across the street from your parents! That was the premise for Everybody Loves Raymond and it made for hilarious and heartfelt comedy.
Ray Barone, a sportswriter, and bumbling father, often found himself in trouble for his selfish view on life. That doesn’t make him sound like father of the year material, however, he also navigated a lot of crazy family situations. In the end, Ray reminded all of us that family can annoy us and get in the way but ultimately they are there to help us get through life and feel loved.