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Top 10 Most Memorable TV Dads

Father's Day is fast approaching, so what better time to honor some of the most memorable television fathers? I've compiled a list of my top 10 dads (and a few father figures) to go along with my great movie dads list from the other day. There were so many stern, sweet and just plain goofy men to choose from, ranging from Sandy Cohen on "The OC" to George's dad on "Seinfeld" to Al Bundy on "Married with Children," so be sure to let me know your favorites. Here's who made my final cut:

No. 10: Philip Drummond, "Diff'rent Strokes"
Philip Drummond often went around with an expression of good-natured surprise. He was utterly patient with his one natural child Kimberly and his two adopted boys Arnold and Willis. The three kids somehow found their way into crazy stressful situations (riding in cars with strangers, bank holdups, learning how to "just say no" to drugs, etc.), and then there were the hand-wringing moments, like when Philip was in the hospital after a car crash and had amnesia! But the sweet, even-tempered Philip Drummond always bounced back, and provided a supremely healthy living environment for all his kids — both adopted and natural.

No. 9: Joey Harris and Michael Taylor, "My Two Dads"
Nicole's hot city apartment with its spiral staircase and giant high-heeled chair more than made up for her strange and awkward situation: With her mother deceased, joint custody was awarded to both Joey and Michael, both of whom had had a thing with Nicole's mom. The way I saw it, Nicole had the best life, living with two dads who were remarkably opposite. There was the hot, free-wheeling dad (Greg Evigan) who could totally show her how to lighten up and party, and the uptight nervous dad (Paul Reiser) who could help her with school and who was great for anxious comedic relief. Plus, if Nicole ever needed womanly advice, "Night Court"'s Judge Margaret W. Wilbur was there to lend a hand. Besides having lost her mother, she had an awesome arrangement!

Eight more if you

No. 8: Jason Seaver, "Growing Pains"
To some extent, we have Jason Seaver to thank for giving stay-at-home dads a good name on TV. By working from home while his wife took a series of journalism jobs, Jason was present for all of the misadventures of his two troublemaking sons and brainy daughter.

No. 7: Henry Warnimont, "Punky Brewster"
Everybody's favorite multi-colored multi-print orphan, Punky Brewster, showed up in Henry's apartment building and they were instant soul mates! Well, okay, she had to grow on Henry a little bit. And even then she was a major handful. But still, one could not hope for a funnier, cuter, more loyal little girl, and Henry knew this, even if he was kind of on the elderly, grouchy side. The two made an unlikely — but heartbreakingly adorable — pair, and I'm not sure I miss any TV duo the way I miss Punky and her Henry.

No. 6: Steven Keaton, "Family Ties"
For some reason, one of my earliest TV memories is watching Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox) tell his father, Steven, to stop acting like it was the 1970s. But Steven never really stopped being a hippie, and I always got a kick out of watching him try to reconcile his flower-child, liberal, public-television perspective with the views of his stodgy, conservative kids.

No. 5: Charles, "Charles in Charge"
OK, so Scott Baio's Charles wasn't technically a dad. But as a live-in babysitter for not one but two different families, he helped all the Pembroke and Powell kids through their awkward years — while also nabbing a perfect girlfriend, reigning in eccentric best friend Buddy, and rocking many a pair of suspenders. What child of the '80s didn't secretly want "Charles in charge of our days and our nights"?

No. 4: Jack Bauer, "24"

Jack Bauer is gruff and grumbly, fierce and loving, protective and sweet. His relationship with daughter Kim (Elisha Cuthbert) is rocky at times, and he puts her life in danger more than a lot. But the thing is, Kim is one character who can always (always!) pout, "My dad is coming for you — and he's gonna make you pay!" and totally be right about that. Every time Jack Bauer saves his blonde-haired little girl (who's actually like, 25 years old), I have to cheer.

No. 3: Homer Simpson, "The Simpsons"
Possibly the greatest television oaf of all time, Homer's belching, beer drinking and crude humor might not make him the best role model. But he's always done his best — however bumbling he may be — to show Bart, Lisa and Maggie that he cares for them. I mean, what other father would demand that his son cut school so they could steal grease together? That's love.

No. 2: Danny Tanner, Joey Gladstone and Jesse Katsopolis, "Full House"
Unsure of how to parent his three little girls after his wife's death, Danny Tanner did the only thing he could think of: He recruited his best friend and his wife's little brother to move in. As a result, Danny, Uncle Jesse and Uncle Joey teamed up for eight cheesy but wonderful seasons chock full of life lessons. No matter how serious the topic — drinking, drugs, abuse, meat loaf — it was nothing that couldn't be resolved with a heart-to-heart between Danny or the Uncles and their girls. I loved how almsot every episode seemed to freeze-frame on a father-daughter hug.

No. 1: Cliff Huxtable, "The Cosby Show"
Was there any doubt Cliff would be my No. 1? He was the kind of dad we all wanted (and some of us were lucky enough to have): stern but sensitive, endearingly goofy, and serious without being preachy. He was close to his son, Theo, but also knew how to navigate the challenges of raising four daughters. It's no wonder he was your favorite sitcom dad, and it's going to take one heck of an amazing TV father to ever knock him from this perch.

"24" and "The Simpsons" photos courtesy of Fox
"Full House" photo Source
"Punky Brewster" photo Source
"My Two Dads" photo Source
"Charles in Charge" photo Source
"Growing Pains" photo Source
"Family Ties" photo Source
"Cosby Show" photo Source

Join The Conversation
alillee alillee 9 years
i agree w/ Natty! Homer Simpson may be an idiot, but he loves his family.
Natty Natty 10 years
i think Homer fits on that list. he definitely loves his children and would do whatever he needed to to prove it. although, he is not smart and gets into bad situations, he still loves his kids. He is an honest and realistic portrayal of most of our dads; he's someone the rest of us can relate to.
Linda-McP Linda-McP 10 years
Good list, Buzz. Bill Cosby will always be #1 and "Family Ties" will always be a favorite. I, too, would add Ward Cleaver; as Beaver's dad, he was the best.
Beauty Beauty 10 years
Great list, Buzz. You're making my heart feel warm about a bunch of fictional people. Also, rock on, "My Two Dads"! I'm glad I wasn't the only person who watched that show.
roxy17 roxy17 10 years
Aww Punk Brewster, Family Ties, growing Pains- all blasts from my past.
rb24 rb24 10 years
I loved Punky Brewster
Jinx Jinx 10 years
I don't think Homer should be on this list. Sure he's a beloved character, and I'm sure he "loves" his children, but he's an awful Dad. And Jack Bauer should lose all his points for putting her in that position in the first place. And like, is he ever home?
Mimisugar Mimisugar 10 years
I loved that dad in the "Family Ties"!
sushibananas sushibananas 10 years
Thanks for making a great list of TV Dads, Buzz! I couldn't agree more with your #1 choice! I'm a little surprised that Ward Cleaver didn't make it in the top 10. While's he's a pretty traditional and old-fashioned kind of guy, he was a pretty darn good father! Why, with all the trouble the Beaver got himself into, good ol' Ward never got angry. He just took a fatherly tone and said, "Now Beaver..." Aw, gee shucks. That's too bad! ;p
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