SAN DIEGO, June 15, 2012 – From the earliest days of popular series television, beloved father figures have beamed into our homes, setting the Dad standard.
Ward Cleaver of Leave It To Beaver (1957-1963) is the classic 1950s TV dad. Andy Taylor gave his homespun advice to son Opie on The Andy Griffith Show throughout the 1960s while real life dads struggled with their kids becoming hippies. In the 1970s, we all wanted “Mr. C,” Howard Cunningham of Happy Days (1974 – 1984) to be our dad. Mr. C. passed the TV dad torch to Cliff Huxtable of The Cosby Show (1984-1992).
Fast forward to the modern era and you have devoted fathers like Eric Taylor of the recent series Friday Night Lights and police commissioner Frank Reagan played by Tom Selleck on Blue Bloods.
Maybe you grew up with a dad like one of these men. But plenty of us grew up with a different sort of dad. He might have been a little rough around the edges compared to these guys. Maybe he ticked off the neighbors. Or perhaps he scared off his daughter’s would-be dates. He had dirt under his fingernails. He swore in front of the kids. But these dads loved us just as much.
In celebration of these father figures, we offer up our Top Ten TV Dads Who Broke the Mold, in order of their appearance.
Archie Bunker, All in the Family (1971-1979)
Archie Bunker loved his daughter Gloria, so much he let her liberal pinko husband move into his house. Bunker was the first TV dad that dared to get mad, dared to offend, and brought the reality of a lot of households to TV. We couldn’t get enough of him. How many of us saw our own dads in Archie?
Al Bundy, Married… With Children (1987-1997)
Where Archie Bunker left off, Al Bundy was just getting started. Rude, crude, cynical, vulgar, and socially unacceptable. But his kids weren’t bringing prizes home from school either. Who wouldn’t get irritated? Yet he stood by them and always hoped for something better. God bless you, Al Bundy, for never giving up.
Frank Costanza, Seinfeld (1989 – 1998)
Costanza was a minor character who was actually played by a different actor in his first appearance. But when Jerry Stiller got hold of Frank, he embraced the out of control personality full of eccentricities and a cult following was born. Who didn’t love seeing Frank drive George crazy? And Frank gave us Festivus, sealing his place in TV history and our hearts forever.
Homer Simpson, The Simpsons (1989-current)
If this guy was real, he would have been arrested by now. Homer is the polar opposite of Ward Cleaver. He gets drunk, he’s strangled his son. He is a glutton, he is a dope and he is a bigot. He hates his job. America can’t get enough of Homer, making The Simpsons the longest running scripted show in television history. D’oh!
Tony Soprano, The Sopranos (1999-2007)
Tony Soprano is ruthless, greedy, violent, and unfaithful. But his loyalty to his family and his desire to protect them cannot be questioned. He’s the dad who would die for his kids. Who wouldn’t want a dad like Tony Soprano covering your back? Chances are pretty good no one would ever bully you at school twice, or take advantage of you in any way.
Jack Bristow, Alias (2001 – 2006)
Like Tony Soprano, another dad you would not want to cross. He didn’t want his daughter Sydney (Jennifer Garner) to follow in his footsteps as a CIA agent, but like father, like daughter. Nothing would stop her. Bristow gave up fighting the inevitable and joined forces with his daughter, doing whatever it took to protect her.
Jack Bauer, 24 (2001-2010)
Everyone likes to think his or her dad is tough. But if your dad is Jack Bauer, is there much doubt your dad is the toughest guy on the planet? He takes on terrorists, he willingly risks his life to save the country, and he’s willing to die from torture before giving up state secrets. His one soft spot: his daughter, Kim, who he risked his life to save several times during the course of this series. Fans of the show didn’t think she was worthy of her dad. Maybe they were just jealous.
Phil Harris, Deadliest Catch (2005-present) and Paul Teutel Sr., American Chopper (2003-2010)
These two dads on the list may be on television, but they are both the real deal. Harris and his sons Jake and Josh, along with Teutel and his son Paul Jr. both work together in testosterone fueled family businesses, crab fishing and custom choppers respectively. The dads are rough, tough, and blunt spoken, and they don’t hesitate to get in their sons’ faces and put them on blast at full volume if they think it’s necessary. But in the end, the shared professional pride and family loyalty wins out. When Harris died on the show of heart failure fueled by his health problems, it was heartbreaking to watch the effect of his death on his sons and follow them as they figure out how to carry on without their dad.
Walter White, Breaking Bad (2008-2012)
Bryan Cranston as Walter White is an amazing character in an amazing show. He is unapologetically bad ass, a guy willing to do whatever it takes to get by. The only negative thing about a dad like this: he’s done, seen or been willing to do every bad thing you could possibly think of, and you are never going to get anything over on him. He’s going to know about you getting in trouble before you do. Pretty effective parenting wouldn’t you say?
Eddard (Ned) Stark, Game of Thrones (2011-2012)
When your father is Lord paramount of the North and Hand of the King, he has a headstart on being a Rad Dad. Stark lived by a strict code, had to be able to fight and hunt, and despite being a womanizer was a devoted husband and father. He stood up for what was right, and after being betrayed by people he thought were allies, he confessed to crimes to protect his family and was willing to lose his head for his children. No other dad on our list can claim this.
If you’re a good kid, treat Dad to the DVD or Blu-Ray edition of one of these great shows for him to enjoy, and supply his favorite beverage. Happy Father’s Day!
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. Read her column Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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Copyright © 2012 by Falcon Valley Group
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