10 Best TV Dads, Ranked By Archetype

From Danny Tanner to Ned Stark and even Ron Swanson, we rate our 10 favorites.

By Jessie Peterson

Dads are having a huge moment right now. “Dad bods” are in vogue, and of course Father’s Day is coming up this weekend (June 21).

And speaking of Father’s Day, what better way to spend it than cracking open a cold one with your very own dad in front of the TV, cultivating a dad bod of your own by watching others in action?

Related: Full House Reboot Coming to Netflix in 2016

Need help on where to start? We’ve got you covered. Below we round up our ten favorite dads in television and arrange them by archetype in order to be easily digestible. (It’s not like we’re rereading Carl Jung or anything.) Where might your own dad fit into this list of fatherly archetypes? Only you can answer that.


1. Doing the Best He Can Dad: Louis CK (Louie)

In the FX series Louie, comedian Louis CK plays a fictionalized version of himself, performing stand up and raising his two daughters as a divorced single dad. CK’s relationship with his daughters is mostly played for laughs, like stopping a violin solo short, repairing a porcelain doll right before Christmas or finding ducklings in his suitcase. We feel his pain because—cute duckling moments aside—his kids are often really whiny.


2. Blue Collar Dad: Burt Hummel (Glee)

Before he was a member of Congress, Burt Hummel was a mechanic. And while he have been presented as a regular man’s man, there is nothing more important in Burt’s life than his son Kurt. Standing up to bullies? Giving a super awkward yet supportive (gay) sex talk? All part of the job and just a couple of reasons why Burt’s the best parent in the Glee universe.


3. Conspiracy Theory Dad: Ron Swanson (Parks & Recreation)

Sure, he may hate big government, hide all of his gold, and claim to not be interested in the personal lives of those around him, but deep down Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) is a big ol’ softie. He’s a man who lives by his principles, appreciates the value of aged single-malt scotch, loves his kids and falls head over heels easily with strong women. Not a bad way to live your life, just don’t get between him and breakfast food.


4. Prince of a Dad: David/Prince Charming (Once Upon A Time)

He’s Prince Charming. Literally.


5. Hardass Dad: “Red” Forman (That 70s Show)

Foreman (Kurtwood Smith) may you call “dumb ass” from time to time, but that means he really cares, right?


6. Spooky Dad: Gomez Addams (The Addams Family)

He’s a little kooky and spooky, not to mention a chain smoker who comps on cigars. That’s not even mentioning all the knife-throwing. However, Gomez Addams is a family man who’s ardently devoted to his wife and dotes on his children. His fathering methods may be a little unconventional, but who can deny a man who encourages his kids to focus on individual pursuits and be as strange as they want to.


7. Absentee Dad: Eddard “Ned” Stark (Game of Thrones)

Ned Stark’s got a lot of things going for him. He’s a dedicated family man, an honorable lord, a loyal friend and all-around good guy in Westeros. Unfortunately, nice guys don’t tend to last long in the cutthroat world of Game of Thrones, what with all stabbings and beheadings, leaving the Stark children to fend for themselves.


8. “Best Intentions” Dad: Walter White (Breaking Bad)

Well let’s just say some things have a way of getting out of hand. Walter didn’t mean to be a murderer and methamphetamine dealer, but you know how these things can go. Such as when you’re a high school chemistry teacher who suddenly gets cancer, and you have to think ‘out of the box’ in order to support your children when you’re gone.


9. Philosopher Dads: Danny Tanner (Full House)

Definitely not the coolest dad on this list by far. Super finicky and a neat freak, Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) sure had a lot of teachable “dad moments” for his three daughters, most of which were usually accompanied by an apron and yellow dishwashing gloves. Because, let’s be honest, while Tanner may be an incredible father, these stains aren’t going to get themselves out.


10. Best Dad: Phillip Banks (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)

Sure he’s loaded and well-connected (being a powerful lawyer and a judge will do that to you), but Phillip Banks (James Avery) is also responsible for the one of the most emotionally fraught moments in television. I’ll get the tissues. Phillip may not have been Will’s father, but he was more of a father to him than his biological one, and that’s what counts.


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