What makes a great TV dad? For me, it really depends on the person. Over time, I’ve watched shows with some really wonderful dads, and some not so great ones. A bad dad can be the driving force behind every aspect of drama, dysfunction, and turmoil that happens in a show, while a good dad is the glue that holds everything together and can turn any show from average to extraordinary.
In watching countless shows and experiencing the characters of many TV dads, I’ve finally formulated a list of the all-time greats. I’ve put a lot of thought into this and so, here it is: My Top 5 Greatest TV Dads of All Time.
5. Alan Matthews, Boy Meets World
Boy Meets World was not only one of the greatest sitcoms of the 90’s, but it also had one of the greatest TV dads, Alan Matthews. Devoted husband to his wife, Amy, and father to their four children, Eric, Cory, Morgan, and Joshua, Alan plays the role of loving father and staunch disciplinarian. He is no easy dad and often feuds with each of his children, but only because of his overwhelming desire to protect them and make sure that they make the best choices for their lives moving forward. Alan often feels inferior as he struggles to set an example for his children that will make them proud; however, his greatest accomplishment is his ability to be a great father who raises four exceptionally kind children. It is his authenticity and honesty that make Alan a great character, and his children’s love and admiration for him that prove that he is definitely one of the best.
4. Paul Hennessy, 8 Simple Rules
Paul Hennessy is the stereotypical embarrassing dork of a dad who is the object of much scrutiny, but is adored by his family. His love for his wife, Cate, and their three children, Bridget, Kerry, and Rory, is undeniable, even when he feels like nobody loves him. Whether it is wearing silly clothes, sandals with black socks, or doing an awful impersonation of someone famous, Paul will do anything to put a smile on his children’s faces even at his own expense. Struggling to maintain control in a female dominated household, Paul finds a balance between fatherhood and friendship, and does his best to navigate the ever-changing personalities of his teenage daughters. He is by far the funniest TV dad and certainly one of the most fun. With a great sense of humor and an overgenerous heart, Paul is the shining star in a fantastic sitcom that ended far too soon. What makes Paul’s story so hard is his death in Season 2 of 8 Simple Rules as a result of the real life death of actor, John Ritter. Watching his family cope with his loss serves as a testament to the incredible father, husband, and man that he was. While the show continued on for one more season after his death, the series could not survive without Paul’s character and so it concluded after just 3 short seasons. Nonetheless, it is still one of my favorites, as is Paul.
3. Eric Taylor, Friday Night Lights
Eric Taylor can be considered one of the all time best in any category, and while he may be hands down the world’s greatest TV coach, he is also one of the greatest TV dads. He and his wife, Tami, are just about the best couple ever on television, and he adores both of his daughters, Julie and Gracie. He perfectly handles the struggle of his teenage daughter growing up, dating boys, and rebelling against her parents, and when his wife announces that she is pregnant with a new baby, he is elated with joy and offers them all the love and support that they need in order to cope with life’s many changes. He is a pillar of strength both on and off the field, and proves that no matter what, he will always be there for his family. He is there to offer advice and guide his girls along the path of life. When they get hurt, he is there to take the pain away and make them feel better. He is the consummate protector and provider, and is everything a father should be. He is not only a great father to his two daughters, but he is also a great father figure to each and every single member of his football team. He is a molder of minds and sets an example for his players as to exactly what a husband and father should be. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. Thank you, Coach.
2. Sandy Cohen, The O.C.
The O.C. may have been just another teen soap opera, but it had by far one of the greatest dads on TV, and also one of the most underrated. Sandy Cohen is kind, generous, and sees the good in everyone. He is incredibly wealthy, and yet does not flaunt his money. Instead, he uses it for good. When he comes across Ryan Atwood, a teenage boy in need, he takes him into his home with his wife, Kirsten, and son, Seth, and makes him part of the family. He is not afraid to stand up for what he believes in, even if it means going toe-to-toe with some of the most elite members of Newport Beach, California. His down-to-earth nature makes him so incredibly likable, and as a result, he never quite fits in with the pretentious Orange County crowd. He loves his family and is there for them whenever they need him, always willing to provide advice or a clever comment that makes everyone laugh. He provides for his family emotionally, financially, and humorously, and is at the very top of the list when it comes to being the perfect dad.
1. Zeke Braverman, Parenthood
Here it is, folks. The all time greatest TV dad award goes to Parenthood‘s Zeek Braverman. Zeek Braverman is a man’s man. He is strong, wise, and rough around the edges, but underneath that burly exterior is a truly remarkable man. The father of four grown children, Adam, Sarah, Crosby, and Julia, with his wife, Camille, and grandfather to plenty of teens and little ones, Zeek is the patriarch of the Braverman clan. He is the one that all of his children and grandchildren look to for advice, and he loves the opportunity to share his wisdom. He was a soldier, and so he values responsibility, commitment, and respect. He is opinionated and is often too vocal about what he wants his children to do, yet he is never too proud to admit fault and apologize when he is wrong. Zeek was not always the perfect father, yet he strives everyday to make up for his shortcomings. Despite the fact that his children adore him and he is an excellent father throughout the entire series, Zeek, choked up with emotion, still asks his daughter Sarah in the very last episode of the series, “Have I been a good father?” Her response says it all when she tells him, “The very best.” I must say, I could not have said it better myself. Zeek Braverman is the pinnacle of fatherhood and is without a doubt the very best.
Jack Pearson, This is Us
Since This is Us is only in its first season, it’s too soon to name Jack Pearson as one of the greatest TV dads of all time. However, he is wonderful. The man doesn’t have a single flaw. He’s the perfect husband and an incredible father. He puts his family first in every aspect of life and shows them each and every day how much he loves them. He sets the example of what a husband and father should be, and the world has fallen in love with him. Those who watch This is Us know that Jack eventually dies at some point, and we’re all DREADING it. However, the impact that his death has left on his children serves as even greater testament to the kind of father he was, and how much they are suffering from his loss. The show is only 15 episodes in and he is definitely on his way to being one of my favorite TV dads… ever.
There you have it, The Top 5 Greatest TV Dads of All Time. Too bad these guys are fictional because the world would be a whole lot better with more of these dads around.
Did your favorite dad make the list? Comment down below and tell me what you think!
Photo Credit (Featured Image): Top left – Alan Matthews, Pinterest; Left middle – Paul Hennessey, Pinterest; Bottom left – Eric Taylor, http://www.zimbio.com/Best+Worst+TV+Dads+Ever/articles/wgMA4MNjSO/Best+Eric+Taylor+Friday+Night+Lights; Bottom right – Sandy Cohen, Pinterest; Top right – Zeek Braverman, Instagram (@nbcparenthood).