BEST | Phil Dunphy, Modern Family “I’m a cool dad, that’s my thing. I’m hip, I surf the web, I text. LOL means laugh out loud, OMG: oh my god, WTF: why the face,” Phil says in the pilot and oh, how right he is. Not only does he prove said hipness by speaking in abbreviations, he also learns the dances to High School Musical and lets Luke quit magic despite his own intense passion for it.
WORST | Clay Morrow, Sons of Anarchy
Oh, Clay, don’t you know that when you try to have your stepson’s wife killed, karma will get you? Or when you attempt to murder his best friend (keyword: attempt)? How about when you off his father and cover it up? As SAMCRO prez, Clay did whatever he needed to in order to get what he wanted, which left zero room to be a good stepfather to Jax — not that he really cared.
BEST | Burt Hummel, Glee
Burt is a guy’s guy – a mechanic and avid football fan – so Kurt is a bit hesitant to come out to his father. Burt, though, is anything but intolerant. In fact, he comforts his son and is always super protective of him. Now let’s talk about that graduation gift to Kurt. Who would’ve guessed that Burt, of all people, would get up there and dance to “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)?” Not us – but that just makes it all the more satisfying.
WORST | Nicholas Brody, Homeland
Nick was a great father figure to poor little Issa but to his own kids, Dana and Chris? Not so much. In Brody’s defense, his relationship with his kids was bound to be awkward and distant after eight years as a POW, but his lies and betrayal (and that whole attempt at blowing up innocent people) are not the stuff of role models. Despite his few cute moments with Dana, their final interaction was absolutely heartbreaking.
BEST | Adam Braverman, Parenthood
Adam is the dad we all wish we could have: protective, accepting and fun – gotta love when he gets that dance fever! He will do whatever it takes to help his son with Asperger’s – including impromptu trips to the amusement park (fail) and surf lessons (success) – and not so much as bats an eye when Haddie brings a girlfriend home from college. Plus, who doesn’t love a man who will shed a tear every episode once in a while?
WORST | Peter Florrick, The Good Wife
We first meet Peter when his leaked sex tape with a prostitute and accusation of hiring escorts with state dollars lands him in jail, forcing kids Zach and Grace to change schools and make new friends – AKA every kid’s worst nightmare. Even when out of prison, Peter chooses to spend all of his time in politics and not with his children. ‘Nuff said.
BEST | Bob Belcher, Bob’s Burgers
“Dad, you’re the best pimp a girl could ever have,” Tina Belcher tells his father, to which he responds, “Oh, Tina. I’ve been waiting all my life to hear those words.” It doesn’t get any sweeter than that. There isn’t anything Bob won’t do for his kids – even if it means dressing up in a homemade ‘Equestranaut’ costume to get his daughter a beloved toy back.
WORST | Peter Griffin, Family Guy
“I was dating your mother, I don’t like the way condoms feel, next thing you know I got a mortgage, a kid and a crappy job at a toy factory,” Peter tells Meg, which is just what every girl wants to hear from their father to make them feel all warm and fuzzy inside. He’s lowbrow and crude and it is revealed that he shook son Peter Jr. too much, ultimately killing him. I guess you could say Chris, Meg and Stewie got lucky?
BEST | Prince Charming, Once Upon a Time
Just watch any hug between Charming and Emma and your heart will melt. David cared about his and Snow’s firstborn so much that they put her in a magical wardrobe and risked never seeing her again, to protect her from the curse. And while he missed 28 years of Emma’s life, at least he has Prince Neal to watch grow up.
WORST | Tywin Lannister, Game of Thrones
Nothing says fatherly love like having your son watch his former wife get gang-raped by guards, or rewarding him on his 16th nameday with oversight of privys and sewers. To say that Tywin is a bad dad is the understatement of the century. He blames Tyrion for the death of his wife and sees his son as malformed and perverse. Let’s just leave it at that.
BEST | Richard Castle, Castle
Get out your notebook and pen because everyone can learn a thing or two from Castle AKA the greatest dad in the world. This single father-turned-honorary detective chooses to make his daughter the ‘Best Man’ at his wedding because she’s “the most important person” in his life. (We’re not crying…there’s just something in our eye.)
WORST | Mikael, The Originals
All fathers have demands for their kids – take out the garbage, clean your room, vacuum – but kill your brother? Mikael pitted Elijah and Klaus against each other as lads and has a strong desire to kill Klaus, which is generally not the hallmark of a top pop.
BEST | Murray Goldberg, The Goldbergs
Murray may be hot-tempered, blunt and feel absolutely no shame for any of his actions, but he is also a great father. He will call his kids morons and mock them at the roller rink, but it all comes from a place of love. Besides, who wants another lovey-dovey daddy anyway? We’d choose Murray any day (or decade)!
WORST | Rowan Pope, Scandal
We’re not sure what’s worse: instructing someone to sleep with your daughter to keep her away from her true, forbidden love, or instructing someone to sleep with your daughter, period. Either way, shame on you, Papa Pope! Mr. “Hell and high water” may have helped Olivia to stand in the sun, but that meant orchestrating a Machiavellian series of events that lost him any chance at being gifted with a tie anytime soon.
BEST | Sheriff Stilinski, Teen Wolf
Stiles and his dad have quite possibly the most heartwarming father-son moments on TV. When the sheriff tells his son he was a hero in the big lacrosse game, our eyes welled up with tears, just as his did when he finds out that Stiles has the same disease that killed his wife. Plus, any embrace between this father/son duo gets us a little choked up in the best way possible.
WORST | Conrad Grayson, Revenge
During his heyday,, the head of Grayson Global was not only responsible for a massive plane crash, but he also framed and attempted to kill his daughter Charlotte’s biological father. Oh, and let’s not forget that he also threatened her on national television. (Yikes!)
BEST | Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation
What is there not to love about Ron Swanson? He is hilarious, wise and unsurprisingly a great dad. When he first meets his now-stepdaughters, he lets them dress him up as a princess, as every father should. Even though John’s arrival is the most downplayed birth ever, Ron has some sweet “goochy-goochy-goo” moments that prove he really is just a big ol’ softie.
WORST | King Henry, Reign
When he isn’t playing favorites with his sons (and pitting them against each other), he is putting his own happiness first, making various power plays for the English crown — including trying to murder his own son so he could marry his daughter-in-law. (Talk about a game of thrones!)
BEST | Bobby Singer, Supernatural
A dad in everything but name, Bobby’s been a constant fixture in Sam and Dean’s lives (more so since BDW’s death), helping them put away one demon after another and proving that “family don’t end with blood”.
WORST | Malcolm Merlyn, Arrow
What’s worse than your son dying? You being the one that caused his death – just ask Malcolm! When he attempts to level The Glades because his wife was killed there, Tommy ends up a casualty. Malcolm is grief-stricken (eye roll), but luckily he later finds out that Thea Queen is his offspring, so he now has a second chance to be a good father — though something tells us he won’t tutor Thea to be an angel.