12 Most Memorable TV Fathers

12 Most Memorable TV Fathers


Thinking back over my life, I realize I am extremely fortunate to have a father that plays an active role in my life. However, if I look closely, there were a few other men that I spent quite a bit of time with over the years.

Many unknowingly reinforced life lessons. Others were perfect examples of what not to do. They may not have all been positive influences, but their images occupy spaces in my memory for various reasons. Chances are that many of them are familiar to you.

1. Mike Brady (Robert Reed)

We have to acknowledge the “Brady Bunch” as being one of the first series to show a blended family. Mike Brady gracefully showed America how to embrace children who were not related by blood. That was groundbreaking television. Kudos to Mr. Brady.

2. Tony Micelli (Tony Danza)

Who didn’t like the charming Tony Micelli in “Who’s the Boss?” The retired Brooklyn athlete turned Connecticut housekeeper warmed the hearts of millions as he showed off his domestic skills while he undeniably retained his masculinity. The emergence of the “Mr. Mom” wasn’t as “unnatural” as it was once made to seem.

3. Mike Seaver (Alan Thicke)

“Growing Pains” gave us the loving Seaver household with Dr. Seaver as a psychiatrist who worked out of home. He just seemed like the patient and rational father who would talk things out and respect feelings. You know. A nice guy. Then things got weird when he started dating “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in real life who was less than half his age… Ok. Never mind.

4. Steven Keaton (Michael Gross)

“Family Ties” gave us Steven Keaton, half of the easy-going parental duo that somehow birthed uptight Alex P. Keaton, airhead Mallory, and the oh so normal Jennifer- oh yeah and down the line, a kid whose name I don’t remember nor do I feel like googling. Mr. Keaton was the proverbial nice guy.

5. Phillip Drummond (Conrad Bain)

“Different Strokes” crossed the color barrier like no other show at the time. Though we occasionally saw different races living side-by-side, we never saw them living under one roof as family. Mr. Drummond was there way before Angelina Jolie made it hip to mix it up.

6. Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor)

Mr. Bunker had to be the most miserable, racist, politically incorrect character television has had to offer (excluding some current real-life personalities). Spouting inappropriate comments from his armchair, we laughed as Edith tried to counter his negativity with her, “Ohhhh, Ar-chie!” He made us cringe but he holds a firm place in television nostalgia.

7. Charles Ingalls (Michael Landon)

“Little House on the Prairie” showed us the American family of the Old West. Mr. Ingalls portrayed the rugged, hardworking father and devoted husband. Affectionately known as “Pa,” he always had time for and doted over his four girls.

8. Tom Bradford (Dick Van Patten)

Mr. Bradford of “Eight is Enough” showed us how fathers could keep large families together after the loss of the matriarch. Having eight children (and taking care of them) is more than enough to get you on the fathers list. He was television’s original octo-parent before Kate and the other one.

9. Al Bundy (Ed O’Neill)

“Married with Children” was about as dysfunctional as an intact nuclear family could be. Al Bundy was the proverbial slob. He was the kind of parent who could embarrass you by just being. Then again, compared to Peg’s hair and spandex, he may not have been so bad. Mr. Bundy may not have been that loveable, but he was definitely memorable.

10. Homer Simpson

“The Simpsons” have been on television for twenty-three years. Homer, the clueless patriarch, has been a fixture in many a household. Despite his laziness, ignorance, and occasional volatility, Homer is one of the most lovable characters the small screen has ever seen. Doh!

11. Eliott Stabler (Christopher Meloni)

Detective Stabler of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” was portrayed mostly as the hard-edged cop. However, he did have five children which definitely makes him a daddy. Why is he on this list? No good reason other than I have a crush on him. Sue me.

12. Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby)

Dr. Huxtable was by far the coolest dad on television. There were always life lessons wrapped up in comedy on “The Cosby Show.” And as a bonus, he would probably give you a pudding pop to top it all off. What kid could lose?

There you have it. All memorable, some lovable, some… not so much. Who are some of your favorite TV fathers?

Featured image courtesy of  La Fabrique de Blogs via Creative Commons.

Emelia Sam


Dr. F. Emelia Sam is a writer, speaker, and oral surgeon in the Washington, DC area. She is the author of I Haven't Found Myself but I'm Still Looking and How to Create the Life You Really Want. Most importantly, she abhors raisins and is a fierce advocate of Red Velvet.

468 ad

Wow, you nailed them all. I enjoyed watching all but #11 - which goes to show you I do not watch much modern TV. Although I got a kick out of Homer for the first few years...along with a dose of Al Bundy...Cliff Huxtable, Mike Seaver and Tony Micelli were favorites. Guess you could also throw in Tim the Toolman Taylor ;)?


I wrote the 12 Most Incredible Dads - period - a long time ago for 12Most...doing TV dads is so hard but I love that you included "flawed" ones, too - 'cause aren't all parents flawed in some way, but EVERY dad here loves their kids and that is consistent! Thx Emelia!


No apologies needed for Chris Meloni.  They often referenced his children on the show being his fatherhood to the forefront.


Here I go again, dating myself...


Steven Douglas - Fred MacMurray in My Three Sons


Ben Cartwright - Loren Green in Bonanza

Happy Fathers Day all!


Thank you, Sharon. :) Funny you should mention them. I don't watch Modern Family but I did think of adding this couple solely for the reason you cited...but then I couldn't elaborate since I don't know anything beyond that. However, they have definitely broken modern ground.  


Fabulous list! No one ever came close to being the ultimate father like Cliff Huxtable did.


Must add Cameron (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Mitchell (Eric Stonestreet) on "Modern Family," the first openly gay dads on television.