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Top 12 Sitcom Style TV Dads

I grew up watching sitcoms on weekday nights. My dad, sisters and I would sit back and pick an episode of Home Improvement, Family Matters, Full House, or The Cosby Show among other selections. I can still hear my dad’s laugh while he was watching those shows.

Even after I moved out of my parents home and married my wife, I continued to watch sitcom television shows that featured various types of dads. Currently, my DVR is about half full of sitcoms and I can’t imagine that ever changing.

After stepping into a bit of a storm last month with my ill-advised decision to publish a post entitled Top 10 Things Mothers do Better than Fathers, I learned for the first time that the dad blog community had been frustrated with shows like Home Improvement.  Apparently, Tim Taylor did not do justice to the real dads who are trying to fix the mainstream image of the “hands-off dad” for fathers everywhere.

I can understand this sentiment. Tim Taylor was certainly not a model father. In fact, many of these shows mock fathers as incompetent dipsticks, blundering around trying to fulfill their rather limited roles as fathers. I have always viewed fathers in these types of shows as a combination of every bad, funny, or quirky characteristic from every father I’ve ever known all jammed into one fictional person. That’s part of the reason I find these shows so funny. I can watch an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond and point to certain things Ray says and identify which father I know who has similar characteristics. And sometimes the bad characteristic is one of my bad characteristics–I’m not a perfect father either.

The truth is fathers from shows like Home Improvement don’t do justice to many of the fathers out there. Many fathers are stay-at-home parents who have mastered the art of caring for their children. Other single fathers juggle a work schedule and their role as a parent and do it quite well. There are fathers who work full time jobs in order to support their children and do what they can to care for their children and do an admirable job in their parenting role.

As a father who goes to work each day and only gets to spend a few hours a day with my kids, I am secure in the type of father I am.  No matter how many shows I watch about blundering dads, those dads will not be the judge of the type of father I am to my children. For me, watching these types of shows does nothing to affect my sense of security as a father. Instead, they allow me to sit back and have a good laugh.

Although I know that many dads are “working earnestly to be taken seriously as parents and sometimes can’t afford senses of humor about it,” I’m a dad who wouldn’t enjoy this world all that much if I couldn’t find humor in parenting.

When you really look for it, you can see some good qualities in some of the dads in sitcoms.  Here is my list of some of the best sitcom style TV dads:


  • #12. Frank Lambert 1 of 12
    #12. Frank Lambert
    The twelfth best sitcom style TV dad on my list is Frank Lambert of Step By Step. I know, I know. This sitcom was pretty cheesy, but I still sit back and watch a few episodes here and there reminiscing from my days of adolescence. A father of three kids from a previous marriage, Frank Lambert, married his second wife who already had three kids of her own. The family learns to adjust to each others' funny quirks and Frank Lambert picks up a few new parenting tricks from his new wife, Carol Foster.
  • #11. Bobby Cobb 2 of 12
    #11. Bobby Cobb
    The eleventh best sitcom style TV dad on my list is Bobby Cobb of Cougar Town. Bobby Cobb isn't going to win any awards for husband of the year, but he's a pretty caring and genuine father. He's of the really small brain but really big heart mold and he is constantly pulling stunts to help his college age son grow into adulthood.
  • #10. Phil Dunphy 3 of 12
    #10. Phil Dunphy
    The tenth best sitcom style TV dad on my list is Phil Dunphy from Modern Family. Not the brightest father on TV, but his kids are clearly the most important thing in his life. Watching a recent episode as he tries to have a special experience with his second daughter, I couldn't help but imagine that I would go through the same crisis when my kids are the age of Phil's fictional children.
  • #9. Mike Baxter 4 of 12
    #9. Mike Baxter
    The ninth best sitcom style TV dad on my list is Mike Baxter from Last Man Standing. Alright, I couldn't put Tim Taylor of Home Improvement on my list, but Mike Baxter from Last Man Standing has to make the list because of the girl to guy ratio of the show. I grew up with sisters and I now have two daughters. Mike Baxter makes this list because of his interactions with his teenage daughters as he tries to understand them. Some of Baxter's reactions to his daughters seems spot on with what I have experienced as a brother of three sisters and father of two daughters.
  • #8. Ray Barone 5 of 12
    #8. Ray Barone
    The eighth best sitcom style TV dad on my list is Ray Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond. I love this sitcom—always have. In fact, my "rub some dirt on it" statement in my controversial Top 10 Things Mothers do Better than Fathers post was a direct reference to a few Every Body Loves Raymond episodes. Ray struggled to balance trying to be a good father with trying to do as little as possible. Quite possibly my second favorite episode of that show was when Debra finds out that Ray has been pretending not to be able to do laundry for several years as a way for him to get out of having to do laundry. At the time that episode played for the first time, I knew of several fathers who were doing that exact thing.
  • #7. Carl Winslow 6 of 12
    #7. Carl Winslow
    The seventh best sitcom style TV dad on my list is Carl Winslow from Family Matters. A police officer father of several kids becomes a father like figure to his annoying neighbor Steve and pretty much any of his kids' friends. He's the type of father I want my kids' friends to have. I had several friends growing up with parents just like this. I can still talk to some of these parents and take their advice as if it came from my own father.
  • #6. Phillip Banks 7 of 12
    #6. Phillip Banks
    The sixth best sitcom style TV dad on my list is Phillip Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Uncle Phil wasn't just a father to his son and two daughters, he became a father to his nephew Will Smith. Will Smith was born and raised in West Philadelphia until his life got flipped upside down. He got in one little fight and his mom got scared and . . . . We know the rest of the story. How could Uncle Phil not make my list? I was lucky to have an uncle pretty similar to Uncle Phil who was willing to act as a father figure to me even though my life never got flipped turned upside down.
  • #5. Michael Bluth 8 of 12
    #5. Michael Bluth
    The fifth best sitcom style TV dad on my list is Michael Bluth of Arrested Development. A show that came out before its time, Arrested Development's Michael Bluth is a single father to his son George Michael. He works to raise his son the best he can despite the ridiculousness that is his own family. Having been raised by two of the worst parents imaginable, Michael Bluth shows the world that it is possible to be a good father despite your own parents' failures.
  • #4. Danny Tanner 9 of 12
    #4. Danny Tanner
    The fourth best sitcom style TV dad on my list is Danny Tanner of Full House. Another single father to three girls, Danny Tanner picks up the pieces for his family after his wife dies. He recruits his brother-in-law and best friend to help him raise his daughters. Danny Tanner is often seen as a near perfect father, which is why it still seems so odd to hear Bob Saget, the actor who plays Danny Tanner, swear in movies.
  • #3. Hank Hill 10 of 12
    #3. Hank Hill
    The third best sitcom style TV dad on my list is Hank Hill of King of the Hill. I love Hank Hill—and propane. A classic conservative, yet caring, dad, Hank Hill tries to raise his only son in an ever changing world when Hank himself absolutely abhors change. Despite Hank's conservative old-school quirks, Hank does a good job supporting his son who seems to be the complete opposite of himself.
  • #2. Cliff Huxtable 11 of 12
    #2. Cliff Huxtable
    The second best sitcom style TV dad on my list is Cliff Huxtable of The Cosby Show. No way could I leave Cliff Huxtable off my list. It's Bill Cosby, do I really need to write anything else? Cliff Huxtable is a doctor married to a lawyer raising several children. Plus, did I mention Bill Cosby plays the part of Cliff Huxtable?
  • #1. Cameron Tucker 12 of 12
    #1. Cameron Tucker
    The best sitcom style TV dad on my list is Cameron Tucker of Modern Family. Cam makes my list as the best sitcom style dad not just because his type of character has never been done before on TV, but because he's a really good father. He's a stay-at-home gay father who seemingly devotes all of his time and energy caring for his adopted daughter, Lilly. He also has a heart of gold and perspires love to all around him.

Read more about my family on Moosh in Indy or follow me on Twitter!

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