16 TV Dads Who Have Become the Ultimate Father Figures

Liz Alterman | Jun 14, 2016 TV
16 TV Dads Who Have Become the Ultimate Father Figures

Mike BradyFunny, fair, and even frugal -- these are just some of the adjectives we'd use to describe some of our favorite fathers from TV programs past and present. These characters molded and guided their kids by sharing their wit and wisdom, in some cases in less than 30 minutes per week.

Chances are you've known a dad or two who resembled these relatable father figures. Take a look at these popular patriarchs and remember how they guided their kids through multiple rites of passage.



Image via Archive Photos/Getty Images

  • Charles 'Pa' Ingalls


    Image © Lions Gate Home Entertainment

    That Little House on the Prarie wouldn't be a home if it weren't for Charles "Pa" Ingalls, who built it with his very own hands. Even after a hard day at the mill, he always had a kind word for Ma and the girls. Millions fell in love with Michael Landon, who brought the hardworking dad to life on the small screen.

  • Howard Cunningham


    Image via ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images

    Oh, Mr. C., how we miss you! While Howard Cunningham, curmudgeonly hardware store owner, wasn't always laughing and smiling, he was a great provider who taught Richie and Joanie right from wrong while putting up with his garage-dwelling houseguest Fonzie. Happy Days wouldn't have been the same without him! Tom Bosley was perfect in this role.

  • Ray Barone


    Image via Monty Brinton/CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

    Everybody Loves Raymond dad Ray Barone kept his brood laughing with his wry humor while dealing with constant interruptions from his brother and parents. Show creator, comedian Ray Romano, is said to have based it on his real life.

  • Mike Brady


    Image via Archive Photos/Getty Images

    Here's the story of a man named Brady -- Mike Brady. The architect graciously raised Carol's three daughters from a previous marriage as his own. He even put up with pesky Cousin Oliver for a while in the later seasons of The Brady Bunch. He kept his cool even as his precious blueprints were lost and Bobby and Cindy went missing in the Grand Canyon. Robert Reed did a great job convincing use blended families could live happily ever after.

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  • Tony Micelli


    Image via Sony Pictures Television, Inc.

    In Who's the Boss?, former baseball player Tony Micelli leaves Brooklyn to move to Fairfield, Connecticut, to keep house for the Bower family and offer his daughter Sam a brand-new life around the bend. In between dusting and wiping up his Italian feasts, Micelli, played by Tony Danza, stands in as a male role model for his boss's son, Jonathan.

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  • Tom Bradford


    Image via Lorimar Production Co.

    With eight kids spanning a wide age range, widower Tom Bradford sure had his hands full. But the family patriarch, played by Dick Van Patten, was a kind and patient man who saw his large brood through through childhood and adolescence with a little eye-rolling and a lot of love, proving Eight is Enough -- but still manageable.

  • Phil Dunphy


    Image via ABC Studios

    Perform magic tricks. Sell real estate. Is there anything Modern Family's Phil Dunphy can't do? The dad of three, played by Ty Burrell, will make you laugh as he tries to win over his father-in-law, support his wife, and connect with his kids week after week.

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  • Zeek Braverman


    Image via Nate Beckett / Splash News

    Whether he was fixing cars or simply having a catch with his grandkids, Zeek Braverman was always imparting his hard-won wisdom in Parenthood. Craig T. Nelson played the dad of four, who supported his children in good times and bad and always reminded them to look at the bigger picture.

  • Richard Gilmore


    Image via Derek Storm / Splash News

    Richard Gilmore, dad to Lorelai and granddad to Rory, will be sorely missed when Gilmore Girls makes its return. The level-headed father provided a much-needed buffer between fast-talking Lorelai and her feisty mom, Emily. Sadly, actor Edward Herrmann passed away in 2014 at the age of 71.

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  • Jason Seaver


    Image via  John Kennedy / Splash News

    Nothing like having a good psychiatrist in the family. Jason Seaver, played by Alan Thicke, was able to talk his kids through nearly all of their Growing Pains. His in-house office allowed him to be available at all times and support wife, Maggie, as she re-entered the workforce as a journalist.

  • Danny Tanner


    Image via ABC Studios

    A widowed father of three young daughters, Bob Saget's Danny Tanner was infinitely likeable, which explains all the Fuller House fuss. Putting his girls ahead of his own needs, Tanner always had a ready shoulder to cry on or a joke to lift his little ladies' spirits. And he had the patience to put up with Kimmy Gibbler!

  • Jack Arnold


    Image via ABC Studios

    The Wonder Years wouldn't have been the same without Jack Arnold. Though he wasn't a warm and fuzzy dad, the penny-pinching Arnold, played by Dan Lauria, just wanted the best for his kids.


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  • Walter White


    Image via Photo by Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

    Okay, so he was no Ward Cleaver, but Walter White was able to shed his mantle as a meek and mild-mannered chemistry teacher to become a drug lord in record time in Breaking Bad. While that doesn't sound like "Father of the Year" material, Walt, played by Bryan Cranston, did it all with the intention of leaving a hearty nest egg behind for his wife, son, and baby daughter. While things may not have ended well for the family, he left Walter Jr. a hefty trust fund and a take-no-prisoners legacy. He also proved that it's never too late to rewrite your story.

  • Dan Conner


    Image via ABC Studios

    Dan Conner was that down-to-earth dad who never took anything too seriously. He was quick to make the kids laugh and save them from their often-abrasive mom, the title character of Roseanne. John Goodman garnered multiple Emmy nominations for his acting in this role.

  • Michael Kyle


    Image via ABC

    Damon Wayans brought Michael Kyle from My Wife and Kids to life with his great sense of humor. This TV dad is one who could playfully get his message across.

  • Louis Huang


    Image via ABC Studios

    In Fresh Off the Boat, Randall Park plays Louis Huang, who moves his family to the US in pursuit of the American Dream. Not wanting his kids to end up spoiled and lazy, Louis engages in hilarious exchanges trying to prove his point. Here's one he has with son Eddie:

    Eddie Huang: "Delivering fajitas sucks!"
    Louis Huang: "You know what your grandfather's first job was? Selling bread that was so hot that he lost all his fingerprints."

    That'll teach 'em!

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