Back when television was young, TV fathers were portrayed as all knowing and in control. Fathers knew best. They dispensed unchallenged wisdom. They were calm and smiling and never seemed pressured by any circumstance. They were always clad in a shirt and tie, even while relaxing at home.
The TV fathers of the 50s and 60s had a ready answer for their children, all who sat with rapt attention to the father's every word. "Gee, Dad," said Wally of Leave It to Beaver
, "I never thought about it that way." The Brady kids
would also express the same types of revelation after a counseling session with father Mike.
Enter the 70s and the barrier-breaking All In the Family
. Archie Bunker set all new lows in the TV family landscape. Here was a father who did not sport a tie or infinite wisdom. Archie was a flawed character that went toe-to-toe with his daughter's husband. Marsha, Jan and Cindy's husbands never would have gone through that!
The 80s and 90s gave us Al Bundy and Married With Children
. Ol' Al was the perfect head of a dysfunctional family; he never would have been able to hang with the perfect 1950s family. Now television, recognizing that every family isn't perfect, portrays all kinds of fathers, which pretty much reflects the times in which we live.
THE RAD DADS
He gets kudos simply for taking in his sister's three kids. Bernie took them off the mean streets of Chicago and brought them to his LA-area mansion to feed, clothe, and discipline them. No easy task, especially having to deal with that smart-mouthed Vanessa.
(The Cosby Show
One of America's favorite dads, played by Bill Cosby
. He was wise, loving and in control. He ruled with firmness, but always with heavy doses of that Cosby humor.
Ben Carthwright, played by Lorne Greene
, raised three sons alone on the sprawling Ponderosa of the old west. Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe were all men of honesty and integrity thanks to Ben.
(The Brady Bunch
Mike, played by Robert Reed
, totally accepted Marsha, Jan and Cindy as his own. He also had his sons Greg, Peter, and Bobby respect Carol as their new mother. You'd never know it was a stepfamily if not for the opening theme.
(Everybody Hates Chris
He has a gruff exterior, rarely cracks a smile, and yet is hard-working and wants the best for his family. A serious tightwad, however.
Jonathan, played by John Schneider
, raised and adopted young Clark Kent as a toddler. He protected Clark and his secret abilities, even taking on Clark's otherworldly natural father, Jor-El, to rescue Clark from destroying himself.
Michael, played by Harold Perrineau Jr.
, stopped at nothing to rescue Walt from the Others. He even murdered two women and shot himself in the process.
(Friday Night Lights
He's ultra-protective of daughter Julie to make sure she doesn't end up in the clutches of his football players. Eric (Kyle Chandler
) also serves as a father figure for many of the boys he coaches.
He's a really sweet dad who bakes cupcakes for Betty on her birthday and comforts her and dries her tears as she cries about her boyfriend and his baby-mama. He risks his life by lying and staying in the US for the betterment of his family.
THE BAD DADS
Outside of being ugly, he's negligent and selfish. He can't deal with any of his children and acts like he doesn't even know the youngest one's name.
He's loud and abrasive and always yelling and berating his wife Estelle and son George. Frank (Jerry Stiller
) comes up with goofy business schemes, at times forcing George to get involved. Poor George - no wonder he's so neurotic. Serenity now!
He's one of the most conniving and ruthless fathers known to the television world. Up until his death, Lionel (John Glover
) had a terribly adversarial relationship with his son Lex. He never showed much love to Lex, believing that it was Lex who killed Lionel's infant son. He also tried to totally erase adult Lex's memory.
Ben's (Michael Emerson
) "daughter" was a young woman whom he had stolen from her mother at birth. In Ben's twisted mind, he did care for the girl, however, he called a maniacal gunman's bluff as the man held a gun to the girl's head. Ben stood stunned as the girl was shot to death.
(All In the Family
He was a man beset with numerous flaws, bigotry and being right in his own mind stand out by far. Archie (Carroll O'Connor
) didn't do his daughter any favors by always arguing with her husband, whom he lovingly called "Meathead."
(Married With Children
This guy set new lows in fatherhood. He hated his family and tried to avoid them. Al (Ed O'Neill
) actually loathed himself, which makes him such a loathsome person.
Bradford (Alan Dale
) has no real relationship with Daniel. Betty got her job because Bradford figured she would be a way to keep Daniel out of the sack. He also plotted against transgender daughter Alexis by having a man try to seduce her out of the country.
He's John Locke's father. This guy bilked the trusting John out of a kidney, disappeared on him, and then pushed poor John out of a window, causing paralysis. Even after Anthony mysteriously showed up on the island, he still treated John crappy as ever.
-Our Favorite TV Ensembles
-Celeb's Dads Who Won't Be The King Of The Castle This Father's Day
-Character Additions That Nearly Ruined A TV Show (Or Did)
Story by Donna Terrell
Starpulse contributing writer