My 3 Favorite TV Dads

My 3 Favorite TV Dads


The other day I came across a couple of lists that were ranking the all time best TV dads. For the most part, I thought they were pretty good. I have grown up watching a lot of TV, but I didn’t watch a lot of the older shows on there like Andy Griffith or My Three Sons. So, parts of the list fell a little flat with me. I just couldn’t relate because I wasn’t familiar with the shows.

What I thought was really fun about the lists was being able to recall certain TV dads and see yourself in little parts of their characters. I think we all see TV families that remind us of our own family. It may be little mannerisms or full on mirror images. Being able to relate to what’s on TV is what makes us want to tune in and watch. So, I figured why not give a few of my favorites. I see a little bit of mine and my dad’s parenting style in each of these characters. These guys make parenting look fun.

Disclamer: I was raised on shows of the 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s. That’s what I am going to talk about.



Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby)

The Cosby Show

Quick note: I wrote this before Bill Cosby was accused of assaulting so many women throughout his career. I am leaving this on here because this show and his character were such a huge influence on me.
I don’t know too many people my age that didn’t grow up watching The Cosby Show. In fact, I would say that it is an all time favorite show for me. I can let my kids watch it with me, and my oldest daughter loves it. I love that Cliff and his wife are ridiculously successful at their jobs, and at raising 5 kids. Not only that, their house was the place to hang out. Their kid’s friends were always over and treated like extensions of the Huxtable family. (My favorite was Peter, the kid that never spoke). The thing I loved about Cliff was that he always seemed to have time for his kids. He and his wife were always having fun. he also had a deep love of family history and culture that he shared with his kids. Even though they had top level and demanding careers, I got the impression the kids were their primary focus. Not to mention, there are not too many shows with families that have more than 3 kids. I love the large family theme.

Just like with my dad, those kids knew the better not try to lie or BS their way out of a situation. He had 5 kids at all different stages of life, all with completely different needs and personalities. Even with all that, he was 100% consistent. He expected them to be respectful, honest, hard working, and completely accountable for their actions. He was able to pull it all off with a firm hand and laughter.

The humor is the most relatable quality for me. As a parent you have to know when to be firm and when to have fun. I believe there are lessons to be learned in finding the humor in a situation. My favorite episode was when Theo was making poor grades and he said it was ok because he didn’t need good grades to be a model. Theo seemed to think he had it all figured out and was ready for the real world. In typical Huxtable fashion, Cliff decided to go big on teaching Theo a lesson. The whole family got together and completely rearranged the house while Theo was gone. When Theo returned the house looked like an apartment complex and everyone was playing a character that Theo would interact with. Everyone was covered from the landlord, modeling agent, banker, and even a cook. They gave him $1000 dollars and he had to start from scratch. Get an apartment, headshots for modeling, loan for headshots, food, everything you need in the real world. All that to say, hilarity ensued and Theo learned a lesson. He was going to have to work hard at everything including school. Nothing would be handed to him.

I always loved that about Cliff Huxtable.  He was willing to be creative and have fun raising his kids. After all, if you can’t do it with a smile, then why do it?

Rudy: [interrupts Cliff trying to kiss Clair] Dad?
Cliff: Why is it every time I try to kiss my wife, a kid pops up?

Red Foreman (Kurtwood Smith)

That 70’s Show

I know a lot of people will think I am crazy with this one. Red, the father on That 70’s Show, was seemingly the exact opposite of Cliff Huxtable. He was cranky, mean, insensitive, and can’t say I love you. He also drank, cursed, avoided family, and constantly threatened to put his foot in someone’s ass. What I love about him is that he a blue collar, hardworking man. He expected his son to be a man. Yeah, he would insult Eric and yell at him, but he had some moments when he would show Eric affection in his own way. He had some great charitable moments. When he found out His son’s best friend was living without parents, he let him move in. Hyde was treated as a member of the family and expected to follow the rules and pull his weight. He helped the kids when they needed it and doled out punishment when they need that too. On the surface, Red seemed like a grouch, but you could tell he deeply cared for his family and friends. Even if they were a bunch of “dumb-asses”

Red: (bleep) Damn it! I am tired of being (bleep) Santa Claus! Steven, you get your (bleep) together and you get your ass in the (bleep) damn car! We’re going! (bleep) Now (bleep) damn it! Move it!
Hyde: Okay.
Kitty: You are just the sweetest man alive.
Red: (bleep)!

Phil Dunphy (Ty Burell)

Modern Family 

Every dad should strive to be as fun loving as Phil. He thinks he’s the cool dad, not because he gives the kids whatever they want, but because he is involved. If his kids are in to something, he wants to know about it. He loves the nerdiest things and wants to share them all with his family. There isn’t anything he does that he doesn’t put his heart in to. From his job to his family, magic tricks to family vacations, and pranks to trampoline jumping. Phil wants to be the best at everything. Why? So his family will have the best and know what a great dad looks like.

Phil Dunphy: “I’m cool dad, that’s my thang. I’m hip, I surf the web, I text. LOL: laugh out loud, OMG: oh my god, WTF: why the face?”  

Honorable Mentions:

Danny Tanner: He was a hokey clean freak, but you could tell he loved his kids. Not to mention he supported his dead beat best friend, brother in law, and 3 girls.

Tim Taylor: They don’t get much manlier that Tim. He involved his boys in almost everything he did. I loved that. And…. we all love Al.

Allen Mathews/Mr Feeny: Together, these two guys were an awesome dad on Boy Meets World. No way Corey and the rest would turn out bad.

Dr. Jason Seaver: I always liked Mr. Seaver. He always seemed to have some good advice. I can even forgive that his son’s best friend’s name was “Boner”.

Willie Robertson: Fierce protector of his daughter’s modesty and reputation. You want to date my daughter, lets go in the woods with guns.


Dishonorable Mentions:

Dexter Morgan: Well, he’s a serial killer. Strike one. He got into a feud with another serial killer that killed his son’s mother. Strike two. And he is a serial killer. Strike Three.

Harry Morgan: He raised a serial killer and taught him how to do it without getting caught.

Frank Costanza: Please stop yelling!!

Robert Baratheon: You have too many illegitimate children to count. Your son is actually the love child between your wife and her twin brother. You are a bit of a glutton. FAIL!!

Carl Winslow: He spent way more time with his annoying neighbor kid than he did with his own. Priorities, buddy.



  1. I really like Kevin Arnold’s Dad on “The Wonder Years”. He was a kinder, gentler Red, in being blue collar. I still think their omega/finale was one of the best last episodes of all t.v. shows. & in many ways, he reminded me the most of my Dad.
    I also really like Hal from Malcolm In the Middle.
    Question: which t.v. dad most reminds you of your Dad…& yourself? =)

    • The dad on the Wonder Year’s show was pretty good. Seemed a bit distant and uninvolved sometimes. But I guess that’s what made everything he did so valuable to Kevin. I loved that show. I think Kevin and Winnie should play Abby and I in her movie. That would be fun because we both grew up on that show.
      I would have to say a combo of Red and Heathcliff remind me of my dad, and that’s probably why I enjoy them so much. My dad is blue collar and a bit of a cowboy. He would prefer I say Ben Cartwright or one of the other cowboy show dads. If there is anything I get from my dad it’s that he’s a hard worker and that’s all he expects of me.
      As much as I want to say I am more like Red, I am not that much of a grump. I have no problem calling someone dumb-ass, though. I am more like Phil Dunphy. I can be a goober like him and I love quality time with my family as often as possible.

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