While there is certainly no shortage of dad characters on TV, some of them stand out more than others. These fictional fathers proved their love for their TV family time and time again, making them some of the best parental figures to ever grace the small screen. Below, check out five of the best TV dads of all time.
1. Philip Banks, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996)
When Will Smith’s life got flip-turned upside down, he never thought he’d find a family in Bel-Air. But his Uncle Phil (James Avery) took the rebellious and energetic teenager under his wing and, over the course of six seasons, helped him become a man. He showed loyal Fresh Prince fans that you don’t have to be someone’s biological father to be considered a father figure; you just need to love, guide, and encourage them.
2. Andy Taylor, The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968)
It’s not uncommon to hear older generations waxing nostalgic about the good old days when Sheriff Andy Taylor ruled the roost and the town of Mayberry on The Andy Griffith Show. They may be onto something, as the show most certainly paints a portrait of a simpler time. But the lessons of personal responsibility, the importance of honesty and generosity that widowed “Pa” Andy Taylor taught his son Opie still serve as great reminders to us all.
3. Eric Taylor, Friday Night Lights (2006-2011)
Eric Taylor, a.k.a. Coach T, had a tough-as-nails exterior — but he showed a heart of gold through his relationship with his daughters and the way he became a surrogate father to many of the high schoolers he coached. Through five seasons on Friday Night Lights, his ability to mentor and bond with his teenage daughter was often in beautiful contrast to the way he mentored the Dillon Panthers and East Dillon Lions. He was always there to provide tough love — but no one who crossed his path ever doubted that he loved his players and his family more than anything.
4. Homer Simpson, The Simpsons (1989-Present)
On the surface, Homer Simpson doesn’t have many admirable qualities. Since 1989, one of the most famous patriarchs in TV history has proven to be crass, rude, lazy, and stubborn. But his parenting methods, while often unorthodox, prove to be refreshing, and his loyalty to his family is unyielding. He’s a father who’s always there for his children — even if it’s not in the way they’d expect.
5. Cliff Huxtable, The Cosby Show
Despite Bill Cosby’s recent reputation troubles, his role as Cliff Huxtable in The Cosby Show is one of the best fictional examples of the good that can come when you blend equal parts discipline, patience, love and humor into parenting practices. The Cosby Show father figure taught his children valuable lessons about working hard, staying true to themselves, and respecting one another. And most importantly, he did it all with a smile on his face.
Additional reporting by Michelle Regalado