Dad Knows Best... Sometimes
The TV dad is one of the most iconic roles on television.
From the earliest days of radio and television, the focus of shows and programming has often been the family unit. Over the decades, we’ve seen similar tropes and stereotypes introduced, recycled, exhausted, and renewed. And while TV dads used to be the ‘father knows best’ Atticus Finch types like Ward Cleaver, these days, we’re more familiar with the buffoonish Homer Simpsons and Peter Griffins of fiction.
Of course, the changing role of TV dads reflects our changing social mores and family units in the real world—a breaking down of the nuclear family and outdated gender roles.
Which famous TV dad was your favorite when you were growing up? How did your own father compare if he was around?
In honor of the recent passing of legendary actor and personality Alan Thicke, we’ve compiled a list of the best TV dads of the ’80s and ’90s.
Philip Banks (James Avery) — “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”
Though we know him best as Uncle Phil, the Banks family patriarch is a father-figure to all. Props to him for his successful career, wonderful family, and for putting up with Will for so long.
Al Bundy (Ed O’Neill) — “Married… with Children”
Is Al Bundy the best TV dad ever? While he may be the snarkiest dad on this list, we loved Al’s cynical antics, sense of humor, and realistic dad sarcasm.
Alan Matthews (William Russ) — “Boy Meets World”
It’s hard to find a dad better than Alan Matthews. Hardworking and kindhearted, Alan raised a great family and was also a father figure to other characters like Shawn.
Next up: The late, great Alan Thicke. Keep reading!