The 6 best TV dads of all time, in honor of Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, even the fictional ones. 

The TV dad has been around since the medium began and family sitcoms ruled the airwaves. Plenty of fathers on the small screen are notorious for just how terrible they are at parenting (Homer Simpson, anyone?), but there are just as many that have been examples of compassion and love. 

Just in time for the holiday, we picked our six favorite televised dads of all time. Some are fairly recent creations, some have been around for decades, but we’d happily look up to all of them. 

Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler), ‘Friday Night Lights’

Kyle Chandler as Coach Eric Taylor in 'Friday Night Lights.' (Photo: Bill Records, NBC)

Coach Taylor isn’t just a dad to his two daughters (one insufferable, one adorable), he’s a father-figure to all the boys on the East Dillion Lions football team, a pillar in their chaotic teen years. And though Coach is steadfast, loving and firm, he is not perfect, just like most dads. “Lights” was able to beautifully show his fatherly flaws as well as his tremendous strengths.

Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith), ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

Andy Griffith and Ron Howard from "The Andy Griffith Show." (Photo: XXX VIACOM)

TV series depict single mothers more often than single dads, making widower Sheriff Andy Taylor an outlier when the series aired in the 1960s. He came to represent the platonic ideal of a TV father, shaping Opie (Ron Howard) into a great kid – and maybe rubbing off on future award-winning director Howard in the process. 

Louis Huang (Randall Park), ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ 

Constance Wu as Jessica and Randall Park as Louis on 'Fresh Off the Boat.' (Photo: Nicole Wilder, ABC)

With sensitivity, smarts and impeccable hair, Louis is a wonderful father to Eddie (Hudson Yang), Emery (Forrest Wheeler) and Evan (Ian Chen), never blowing up (not even when Eddie took a sip of beer) but disciplining when he needs to. More than just being a great dad, Louis is a particularly great 90s dad, with all the pleated khaki shorts and print polos he can wear.  

Dan Conner (John Goodman), ‘Roseanne’/’The Conners’

Dan Conner (John Goodman), left, and his daughter, Darlene (Sara Gilbert) in "The Conners." (Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC)

The sitcom genre is rife with lazy husbands and nagging wives, making “Roseanne” a revelation in how it portrayed both marriage and parenting. Dan’s character, through Goodman’s performance, helped show a relatable couple as the Conner patriarch took an equal share in parenting and worked hard to keep his family happy and as stable as possible. 

Uncle Phil (James Avery), ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ 

Joe Marcell, left, Janet Hubert (the original Aunt Viv), James Avery, Karyn Parsons, Alfonso Ribeiro, Tatyana Ali, and Will Smith on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." (Photo: CHRIS HASTON, NBC)

As the theme song infamously goes, Will Smith’s teenage character in the 1990s sitcom goes “to live with his auntie and uncle in Bel-Air.” Uncle Phillip Banks becomes a surrogate father, a tough-love type who had plenty of soft spots. Will and his children may have driven him crazy (and spent a lot of his money), but Uncle Phil always found ways to express his love. 

Eddard Stark (Sean Bean), ‘Game of Thrones’

Sean Bean as Ned Stark in Season 1 of 'Game of Thrones.' (Photo: Nick Briggs, HBO)

Sure, he may have been really terrible at Westerosi court politics, but when it came to comforting his children or passing on wisdom, there was no father like Ned Stark. Admittedly, the bar for good parenting is particularly low in “Thrones,” so compared to, say, Craster (Robert Pugh) or Tywin (Charles Dance), Ned is the Seven Kingdoms’ father of the year several times over. 

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