10 Great TV dads

Last month we had great TV moms in honour of mother’s day so of course today we’re honouring all the amazing dads out there on father’s day with a post about great TV dads. I am lucky to have two awesome dads in my life – my own father, Jules and my father-in-law, Alan who are both great role models while also being an enormous amount of fun. Happy father’s day to both of you and all the other great dads out there.

[MILD GOT SPOILER ALERT]: When I was preparing this list I initially had Stannis Baratheon on it. Last Monday I had to very quickly edit that for obvious reasons.

Burt Hummel

Burt Hummel
Played by: Mike O’Malley
Show: Glee (2009 – 2015)
Dad to: Kurt
Special dad skills: Understanding, overcoming his own prejudices… the Single Ladies dance
“Kurt Hummel: Dad. I have something that I want to say. I’m glad that you’re proud of me. But I don’t want to lie anymore. Being a part of the Glee Club and football has really shown me that I can be anything, and what I am, is, I’m gay.
Burt Hummel: I know.
Kurt Hummel: Really?
Burt Hummel: I’ve known since you were three. All you wanted for your birthday was a pair of sensible heels. I guess I’m not totally in love with the idea, but, if that’s who you are, there’s nothing I can do about it. And I love you just as much. Ok?
[They hug]
Burt Hummel: Thanks for telling me Kurt.
[He starts to go]
Burt Hummel: You sure, right?
Kurt Hummel: Yeah Dad, I’m sure.
Burt Hummel: I’m just checking.”

Frank Costanza

Frank Costanza
Played by: Jerry Stiller
Show: Seinfeld (1989 – 1998)
Father to: George
Special dad skills: Shouting, weird theories
“Estelle Costanza: Georgie, would you like some Jello?
Frank Costanza: Why do you put the bananas in there?
Estelle Costanza: George likes the bananas!

Martin Rodhe

Martin Rohde
Played by: Kim Bodnia
Show: The Bridge (2011 – )
Father to: August and four others whose names I honestly can’t find
Special dad skills: Fighting for his kids, detective skills

Marty Crane

Marty Crane
Played by: John Mahoney
Show: Frasier (1993 – 2004)
Dad to: Frasier and Niles
Special dad skills: Delivering earthy wisdom, bringing his sons down to earth
“Frasier: My study? You expect me to give up my study, the place where I read, where I do my most profound thinking?
Martin: Ah, use the can like the rest of the world!”

Phil Dunphy

Phil Dunphy
Played by: Ty Burrell
Show: Modern Family (2009 – )
Dad to: Hayley, Alex and Luke
Special dad skills: Finding the fun in everything, making up weird sayings
“Luke Dunphy: [after Alex spills sugar on the floor] I’ll eat it for a dollar.
Phil Dunphy: Luke, what have I told you about doing things for money?
Luke Dunphy: If you charge more, they’ll think you’re worth it.
Phil Dunphy: Right. That’s worth at least five.”

Red Forman

Red Forman
Played by: Kurtwood Smith
Show: That 70’s Show (1998 – 2006)
Dad to: Laurie and Eric
Special dad skills: Appearing to be a total hardass but actually always being there for his kids
“Reginald “Red” Forman: What the hell is wrong with you? Why are you always so damn nervous?
Eric Forman: Oh, hmm, I don’t know, maybe it’s because you’ve been yelling at me for seventeen years?”

Rufus Humphrey

Rufus Humphrey
Played by: Matthew Settle
Show: Gossip Girl (2007 – 2012)
Dad to: Dan and Jenny
Special dad skills: Making pancakes, listening
“Rufus Humphrey: Guess whos dad is cool!
Jenny Humphrey: It’s a trick-question.
Dan Humphrey: Yeah, cos it can’t be ours.”

Tony Soprano

Tony Soprano
Played by: James Gandolfini
Show: The Sopranos (1999 – 2007)
Dad to: A.J. and Meadow
Special dad skills: Trying to protect his children from his life
“Meadow Soprano: Are you in the Mafia?
Tony Soprano: Am I in the what?
Meadow Soprano: Whatever you want to call it. Organized crime.
Tony Soprano: That’s total crap, who told you that?
Meadow Soprano: Dad, I’ve lived in the house all my life. I’ve seen the police come with warrants. I’ve seen you going out at three in the morning.
Tony Soprano: So you never seen Doc Cusamano going out at three in the morning on a call?
Meadow Soprano: Did the Cusamano kids ever find $50,000 in krugerrandts and a .45 automatic while they were hunting for Easter eggs?
Tony Soprano: I’m in the waste management business. Everybody immediately assumes you’re mobbed up. It’s a stereotype. And it’s offensive. And you’re the last person I would want to perpetuate it… There is no Mafia.
Meadow Soprano: Fine.
Tony Soprano: Alright look, Mead, you’re a grown woman, almost. Some of my money comes from illegal gambling and whatnot. How does that make you feel?
Meadow Soprano: At least you don’t keep denying it, like Mom. Kids in school think it’s actually kinda neat.
Tony Soprano: They seen “The Godfather”, right?
Meadow Soprano: Not really. “Casino” we like, Sharon Stone, the 70’s clothes, pills…
Tony Soprano: I’m not asking about those bums. I’m asking about you.
Meadow Soprano: Sometimes I wish you were like other dads. But then, like… Mr. Scangarelo for example? An advertising executive for big tobacco. Or lawyers? So many dads are full of shit.
Tony Soprano: Oh, and I’m not.
Meadow Soprano: You finally told the truth about this.
Tony Soprano: Look, Mead, part of my income comes from legitimate businesses, stock market…
Meadow Soprano: Look, Dad, please, okay? Don’t start mealy-mouthing.”

Uncle Phil

Philip Banks
Played by: James Avery
Show: The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (1990 – 1996)
Dad to: Carlton, Hilary, Ashley and Nicky
Special dad skills: Accepting others into his family, being inspiring, encouraging his kids to do great things
“Will: I’m a joker. I play around. I have fun.
Phillip Banks: Mm-hmm. Being a joker’s what’s gotten you into trouble. You may think it’s cool to be on the streets when you’re 17, but when you’re my age, it’s a waste.
Will: I-I can’t think that far ahead.
Phillip Banks: That’s your problem. You can’t take anything seriously.
Will: Hey look, man, I don’t have the problem, all right. YOU have the problem. I remind you of who you are and what you used to be. Now I don’t know, somewhere between Princeton and the office, you got soft. You forgot who you are and where you came from.
Phillip Banks: You think you’re so wise.
[Will looks away from Phillip]
Phillip Banks: Look at me when I’m talking to you. Let me tell you something, son. I grew up on the streets just like you. I encountered bigotry you could not imagine. Now you have a nice poster of Malcolm X on your wall. I heard the brother speak. I read every word he wrote. Believe me, I KNOW where I come from!
Will: You actually heard Malcolm speak?
Phillip Banks: That’s right. So before you criticize someone, you find out what he’s all about.”

Ned Stask

Ned Stark
Played by: Sean Bean
Show: Game of Thrones (2011 – )
Dad to: Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, Rickon and Jon
Special dad skills: Honour, discipline, respect
“Eddard Stark: You understand why I did it?
Bran Stark: Jon said he was a deserter.
Eddard Stark: But do you understand why I had to kill him?
Bran Stark: Our way is the old way?
Eddard Stark: The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.
Bran Stark: Is it true he saw the White Walkers?
Eddard Stark: The White Walkers have been gone for thousands of years.
Bran Stark: So he was lying.
Eddard Stark: A madman sees what he sees.”


  1. what a great list!

    My list would probably also include Cliff Huxtable, Jason Seaver, Steven Keaton and Tim “The Toolman” Taylor

    1. abbiosbiston

      Good picks. I thought about Cliff Huxtable but I am so disgusted with Bill Cosby that I couldn’t get past it.

      1. Understand that but that’s bill who is the sicko not cliff 😉

        1. abbiosbiston

          I know but I just couldn’t.

    1. abbiosbiston


  2. Nice to see Philip Banks and Marty Crane get some Dad recognition, I don’t see them on too many lists but are memorable TV dads. Great list Abbi!

    1. abbiosbiston

      Thanks! Uncle Phil is a legend and half the time Marty was the funniest thing about Frasier.

  3. Oh Matthew Settle is gorgeous! He should be in more shows 😀 I LOVE Frasier and Marty Crane is definitely a great TV dad, fun list here Abbi!

    1. abbiosbiston

      Thanks, Ruth! Matthew Settle is one of my favourite things about GG. I am surprised I haven’t seen him in more.

  4. MIB

    Nice to see Martin Rhode from The Bridge and of course Big Uncle Phil! 😛 I don’t watch US TV so I don’t know who the rest are….

    1. abbiosbiston

      As I was putting this together I was surprised how US focused it was. To be fair most of the rest of my TV exposure is to British TV but in UK shows fathers are alarmingly absent or represented as a bit incompetent, which is quite sad.

      1. MIB

        I think they are mostly relegated to soaps or comedies on UK TV….

  5. Would it be inappropriate to say Cliff Huxtable now? He was my favorite… Great list, Abbi! 🙂

    1. abbiosbiston

      He has already been brought up. I was a big fan growing up but I just couldn’t make myself include him after the recent revelations about Bill Cosby.

  6. […] Abbi shares her Top 10 TV dads […]

  7. Great list! Love Burt, Phil and Red!

    Have never seen The Sopranos but that conversation up there is such great writing!

    1. abbiosbiston

      I think you would LOVE The Sopranos. I haven’t finished it yet but it’s a very impressive show.

      1. Maybe I should get on it. Never seen one single episode but heard great things

  8. Really solid list. Great nominations. As mentioned above, nice to see Martin Crane get some recognition. Wasn’t a huge fan of the dad/detective from The Bridge and really thought the female lead was the star. Would have him out and Al Bundy from Married with Children in. I think that’s the only change I’d make. Fab post Abbi!

    1. abbiosbiston

      Saga Noren was absolutely the star character of The Bridge but while Martin was a bit of a knob sometimes I thought his portrayal of a flawed father was very real.

      1. I get that. I just didn’t like him cheating on his wife 😦 Great acting though.

  9. Another solid list here!

    1. abbiosbiston


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