Not every TV dad can be cool, likable, or even good at being a father. There are plenty of dastardly, deadbeats out there in TV land, but it’s the ones that manage to stick around and win our hearts from time to time that leave a lasting impression that sends their TV children to therapy at some point. Take Homer Simpson above, a TV dad that just missed this list thanks to his better qualities shining through. Sure he still chokes his son at any given moment, can’t remember his baby daughter’s name, and crushed his middle daughter’s saxophone just to name a few bad things, but he’s made up for it.
That’s where this list comes in, showcasing the dads that make Homer Simpson and other, nicer, cooler dads look good. The kind of dad that goes off for the weekend with a woman he just met at a bar and possibly shows up to see you off to school on Monday morning. Good times for all. I’ve probably overlooked a few, so feel free to toss your suggestions into the comments below.
George Bluth – Arrested Development
George makes this list for several reasons, none of which include his time in prison. He’s pitted his children against each other and filmed it for profit, forced them to work at a frozen banana stand that was a stolen idea and essentially a front for illegal activity, made his one son complicit with his wrongdoings, and showed little compassion for two out of his four children (one of which was stabbed in prison). Not only that but he essentially abandoned the family on numerous occasions, mostly to sleep with random women at his cabin in Lake Tahoe.
Al Bundy – Married With Children
What is more cruel than putting your children into a will that will saddle them with debt for the rest of their lives? Not much, but Al Bundy does manage to top himself from time to time. There’s the general thievery and “schemery” that he locks Kelly and Bud into, particularly when one of them falls into success or temporary wealth. But the greatest crime is bringing Bud and Kelly into a world that neither loves or understands them and forces them to devour toaster leavings for sustenance. At least Al does seem to swell with Bundy pride from time to time, showing some love and affection to his children and even proving that he does love his wife.
Tony Soprano – The Sopranos
Oh sure, go ahead and say that Tony is actually a loving and supportive father that puts a roof over his family’s head. That’s exactly what he’d say, too. The truth is that he’s a murdering criminal that has probably done a lot more to hurt his children indirectly than any of the other kids you’ll hear about on this list. Tony might be a loving father on the surface, but it is that residual effect from his lifestyle that do the most damage. For example, he practically ran one of Meadow Soprano’s boyfriends off because he was black (and because his father heard about Tony’s profession) and then had another boyfriend killed due to “business.” Not to mention the way that word gets around about Tony’s lifestyle and the way he treats some of these parents, namely David Scatino played by Robert Patrick. You have to go to a lot of sporting events to get away from that.
Tywin Lannister – Game Of Thrones
Probably the worst dad on the list all around, Tywin Lannister claims to do everything for his family. He obviously earned a bit of leeway considering he practically built his family up out of the gutters of ruination, but you don’t expect much fatherly advice from a guy who views love and compassion as weakness. Having adult children that are scared to death of your presence due to severe punishments and lack of compassion throughout their lives is not a fun thing when Father’s Day rolls around. Not to mention his relationship with Tyrion. It doesn’t go well for them at all, especially in the end. No spoilers.
Rick Grimes – The Walking Dead
You might be saying, “hey, why is Rick on this list? He’s a good dad.” You’d be damn wrong. He might be the shiniest token on this list, but he’s also got a lot of dirt on his rap sheet as a father. He’s got no trouble being loving and caring, unlike the last person on the list, but Rick just kinda sucks at the whole dad business here in the zombie apocalypse. Losing your baby girl is a pretty big black mark against your parenting skills. Then go ahead and toss in the craziness, talking to your dead wife on the telephone, and murder, and you’re setting a pretty poor example for your kids. He’s probably on the very edge of this list, but he makes it.
Frank Reynolds – It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
While he seemed fairly competent upon his entrance into the series, we soon came to see that Frank Reynolds was a scumbag of the highest order. This transferred over to his relationship with his former children, Dennis and Sweet Dee, but also to his probable child, Charlie. Buying all the presents your children want for Christmas, but keeping them for yourself? That’s scummy. Pumping your daughter full of steroids to win a fight against a lifelong enemy? Kinda scummy. At least he’s treating Charlie pretty well for a kid that survived an abortion (that Frank pushed for).
Archie Bunker – All In The Family
Just because someone is a lovable racist curmudgeon from another era doesn’t mean he isn’t a terrible father. Archie Bunker may have let Gloria live in his house with Mike/Meathead and babied his daughter for years, but the man was still a fairly nasty person who made life difficult for those around him. It makes for great television, but it is going to make for a terrible life. Just try bringing some friends over for fun and hanging out with a guy tossing out offensive stereotypes in the living room.
Peter Griffin – Family Guy
When it comes to bad animated dads, the next two Seth MacFarlane creations are probably the most cruel of the bunch. They’re the animated versions of Tywin Lannister, but with goofy interests and weird side stories. Peter Griffin saves most of his cruelty for his daughter, Meg. Spitting in her lemonade, throwing said lemonade in her face, wiping boogers on her, leaving her places, shooting her, tripping her into things, calling her names, generally making fun of her. It’s all there.
Stan Smith – American Dad
In the same universe (I think), we have Stan Smith. A self-involved, CIA patriot who can give or take his children at any point in the series. One moment he’s showing deep love and compassion for the well being of Steve and Haley, but then the next he’s secretly allowing one to be conditioned to be an assassin, bullying his son in an effort to teach him to be a man, and threatening all of them with violence at one point or another. Stan takes Peter Griffin’s bad dad qualities and amplifies them with the aid of CIA tech and a never-ending will to succeed. He’s an assh*le.
Don Draper – Mad Men
Oh did you like the end of Mad Men? Where Don smiled and had the realization about a commercial for a sugary beverage that is supposedly the greatest commercial ever created? Well, how about the family he left behind? The kids he walked around on all the time and basically treated like junk for the entirety of the series. For goodness sake, his daughter, Sally, walked in on him cheating on his wife. He even admits that he has a disconnect with his children in the series. That’s not good at all, and it’s the result of his actions as a father. He might shine a bit when he defends Sally Draper against her mother, but who is there at the end of the day? Who stays behind with the kids? Not hippie Don Draper searching for inner peace on a hill top in Big Sur. Happy Father’s Day Henry Francis, you’re the one who deserves an ugly tie.