TV and Movie Dads We'd Like to Adopt Us
What makes an ideal dad? A knack for offering sage advice at just the right moment? An ability to give hugs that seem to make all the troubles of the world melt away? A collection of loud, colorful sweaters? Whatever it is, here are 21 fictional dads who fit the bill. As we head toward Father’s Day, take a look at some pops from pop culture who merit a “Father of the Year” mug and more.
Atticus Finch, “To Kill a Mockingbird”
We probably weren’t the only kids who wished we had a dad with the integrity and gravitas of Atticus Finch. As portrayed by the late, great Gregory Peck, the small-town attorney radiated a quiet stoicism that made him a role model to his children, Scout and Jem, and to just about everyone who watched this 1962 classic.
Danny Tanner, “Full House”
While Uncles Jesse and Joey were the fun father figures in the Tanner household, Danny was tasked with performing the duties of an actual dad. The character played by Bob Saget was also the breadwinner of the household. After all, Uncle Jesse’s band, Jesse and the Rippers, won't exactly pay the light bills, and three growing kids can’t eat Uncle Joey’s woodchuck jokes.
Uncle Phil, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”
There’s nothing a bear hug from Uncle Phil can’t cure (unless you’re DJ Jazzy Jeff — then the bear hug is followed by a swift toss out the door). As played by James Avery, Uncle Phil was always there for Will when he needed him, particularly in the “very special” episode where the Fresh Prince meets his estranged dad.
Peter Mitchell, “Three Men and a Baby”
Yes, there are three men taking care of that baby. But Peter Mitchell, the Tom Selleck character, does all the work. (Ted Danson’s actor character was never there, and would you really entrust your kid to Steve Guttenberg?) Another reason Mitchell makes the best dad: Who wouldn’t want to live in the massive New York City apartment that the successful architect was clearly paying for?
Dr. Houseman, “Dirty Dancing”
OK, so he put “Baby” in a corner. Dr. Houseman (Jerry Orbach) was undeniably a caring, if somewhat overprotective, father. (Hey, you’d lock up your daughter too, after seeing Johnny Castle’s dirty dance moves.)
Cliff Huxtable, “The Cosby Show”
Whether he’s using play money to teach Theo about the real world or hiding a tasty sandwich from Clair, Cliff (Bill Cosby) made the Huxtable household a place to be in the 1980s. And no dad rocked a loud sweater or executed a funky dance move better.
The scientist played by Marlon Brando is so devoted to his son, he sacrifices himself and sends Kal-El in a rocket to Earth just before Krypton is destroyed. Even in death, Jor-El is with the boy in spirit inside the Fortress of Solitude (which must make for some awkward moments when Lois is visiting).
Ted Kramer, “Kramer Vs. Kramer”
Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) is a tribute to all the single dads out there. Sure, he might fly off the handle a bit when his son defiantly eats ice cream. But ultimately he’s a good father who’s trying to do the best he can, even if he occasionally gets some egg shell in the french toast.
Andy Taylor, “The Andy Griffith Show”
Whether he was solving problems around the town of Mayberry or at home with his son, Opie, Sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) was always a fair, even-handed authority figure. Just hearing that whistled theme song takes us back to a another era, when quality time between a father and son meant a trip to the fishing hole rather than a round of “Candy Crush” on the iPad.
Mike Brady, “The Brady Bunch”
Here’s a story / of a man named Brady / who had ... a heck of a lot of kids to juggle. Still, Mike Brady (Robert Reed) always knew the perfect thing to say whenever a member of his massive brood had to cope with a crisis.
Hank Hill, “King of the Hill”
Sure, Hank has his faults. (He’s perhaps a bit too into propane, for example.) But compared to fellow cartoon dads Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin, he’s father-of-the-year material. With the voice of Mike Judge, he loves his family, is a good neighbor and begrudgingly tolerates his son Bobby’s antics.
Carl Winslow, “Family Matters”
A devoted husband and loving father to his large clan (remember the middle daughter who suddenly vanished?), Carl Winslow is the quintessential '90s TV dad. But it’s the Reginald VelJohnson character's patience that really seals the deal. How he put up with Urkel’s antics for so long without socking the squeaky-voiced geek is anyone’s guess.
Bert Fischer, “Rushmore”
In Wes Anderson’s acclaimed comedy, Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) battles with his de facto father figure, the selfish, wealthy layabout Herman Blume (Bill Murray). But Bert (Seymour Cassel), a humble barber left to raise Max on his own after the death of his wife, is always there to support his son, no matter how eccentric his schemes (or school plays) may be.
Professor X, “X-Men”
Although they might not be his biological children, Professor X (Patrick Stewart) is a “father” to every misunderstood young mutant in this film series. Like any good dad, he’s quick to offer inspiring words of wisdom and knows exactly what you’re going to do before you do it. (Though that might have less to do with fatherly intuition and more to do with his ability to read minds.)
Coach Taylor, “Friday Night Lights”
The dad played brilliantly by Kyle Chandler is a devoted father both at home and on the playing field. With his many rousing pep talks, Coach Taylor reminds us that as long as we have “clear eyes and full hearts,” we can’t lose.
Alfred, “The Dark Knight Rises”
Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler (Michael Caine) is always there to wash the Batmobile, offer an inspiring word or stitch a nasty wound. He’s also the only person sane enough to question his employer’s constant need to dress up as a bat and fight crime. Our favorite Alfred moment in this film is when the butler imagines a happy ending for Bruce that doesn’t involve tights or mush-mouthed villains named Bane.
Ned Stark, “Game of Thrones”
The world of Westeros is filled with all sorts of treacherous parents who put their needs before their children’s. But Ned Stark (Sean Bean) is one of the few honorable fathers in the entire series. Naturally, that means he — spoiler alert! — dies during the first season.
Matt King, “The Descendants”
George Clooney displayed his fatherly side in this Alexander Payne film, in which he plays a dad trying to keep his family afloat after his wife has a tragic accident. And who wouldn't want Matt King as a pop — he owns like half of a Hawaiian island!
Marlin, “Finding Nemo”
Sure, Marlin’s a bit overprotective, but can you blame him? Pretty much everything in the ocean wants to eat his son Nemo. But by the end of the movie, Marlin (the voice of Albert Brooks) learns what every father eventually does — that one day your kids will grow up to be independent clownfish, er, people.
Mr. Rogers, “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood”
Granted, Mr. Rogers didn’t have any kids on his long-running show. But in a way, aren’t we all Mr. Rogers’ children? When he puts on his signature sweater and sneakers and sings (“Won’t you be my neighbor?”), it’s like he’s talking directly to us and no one else.