It wouldn’t be an episode of Parenthood if we didn’t get choked up at least six times. But the NBC drama’s series finale provided one of its most emotional and poignant moments, as Braverman patriarch Zeek walked Sarah down the aisle just days before succumbing to a bad heart. Anyone got a box of Kleenex handy?
WORST: Control Freak
Sorry, Malcolm, but a good dad wouldn't drug his daughter and manipulate her into putting an Arrow through her friend. He just wouldn't.
BEST: Work Those Connections
Getting his daughter a writing job at The Passions of Santos was the best thing Jane the Virgin's Rogelio could have done for her. (Too bad her first assignment was writing his death scene!)
WORST: Literally Everything Lucious Did All Season on Empire
Throwing young Jamal in the trash for wearing high heels? Letting him think he was the father of Olivia's daughter, when she was actually his half-sister? Allowing Cookie to take the fall for their joint crimes, thus sending her to prison for 17 years? It's hard to decide which of Papa Lyon's sins was the most egregious during Empire‘s first season, so we'll just lump them all together in one giant shame slide. (You stay in jail, Lucious. You stay in there and you think about what you did!)
BEST: Donald's New Leaf
Jude's dad hasn't always been the most reliable role model, but we stood up and cheered during this week's Fosters when Donald defended his son against Connor's disapproving father. "I want my son to be proud of who he is," he said. "Getting bullied at home is worse than anything he's going to face out in the world."
WORST: Punch Drunk
We’re sure that Secrets and Lies‘ Ben Crawford meant well when he crashed 21-year-old Cooper’s birthday party. But punching the kid and threatening to kill him wasn’t exactly the best way to defend daughter Natalie’s honor — or win back her trust.
BEST: Danny Castellano's World Tour
We're glad Hulu picked up The Mindy Project for a (super-sized!) fourth season, but if it hadn't, at least the show's final scene would have shown what a devoted dad Diamond Dan is going to be. Seriously, going all the way to India just to make things right with Mindy's mom? Well done, sir.
BEST: Life of Brian
Outlander‘s Jamie Fraser might just have the worst luck of any character on the Starz drama — but at least he had a father, Brian, who was willing to die if it meant offering his son a brief moment of comfort.
WORST: Silence Is (Not) Golden
Fathers are supposed to encourage and nurture their daughters' gifts, but apparently no one gave that memo to Once Upon a Time's Poseidon; he stole Ursula's singing voice when she was still a teenager — and all because she refused to use it to trap passing sailors.
BEST: Real Talk
Extant‘s John Woods may have an android for a son, but that hasn’t stopped him from loving Ethan as though he were a real boy (and referring to him as such, social norms be damned!).
BEST: Perfect Harmony
Once that whole Ruke/Layna business was cleared up, Nashville's third season was all about Deacon getting closer to Maddie — including giving her guitar lessons, supporting her country music dreams and getting back together with her mom. (Now, here's hoping he's not the one who flatlined!)
WORST: Big Bad B613
At this point, it’s hard to decide which of Rowan Pope’s betrayals against his daughter has been the most infuriating. But in Scandal‘s fourth season, Olivia’s dad outdid himself when he hired Franklin Russell to spy on her and nearly kill Jake Ballard in the process.
BEST: Letterman's Last Call
It might not have been the biggest moment during David Letterman's final night as host of The Late Show, but his shout-out to son Harry — and to Harry's friend Tommy Romano — was easily one of our favorites.
BEST: Cold Shoulder
Sure, maybe The Middle‘s Mike Heck had a roundabout way of spending time with son Axl on his 21st birthday (he forced the kid to come home from college and move an old freezer out of the house, when all he really wanted to do was have a beer with him). But Mike certainly had the best intentions, which is more than can be said for a lot of dads on our list.
BEST: Castle’s Little Helper
As Castle‘s seventh season drew to a close, the titular author/crime-solver let daughter Alexis help with an in-flight murder investigation. Best Take Your Daughter to Work Day ever?
BEST: Father Figure
We can’t even think about Joe and Barry’s just-in-case goodbye hug in The Flash‘s season finale without getting all misty-eyed. Their unofficial father-son relationship is one of our favorite aspects of The CW drama, and we can’t wait for the day when they make their connection official. (*Cough* Iris West-Allen.)
WORST: Model Misbehavior
It wasn't the worst thing Peter's ever done to Meg on Family Guy, but there had to have been a better way for him to express his disapproval over her new modeling gig than ripping his own ears off.
BEST: Papa Clarke's Final Gift
Before becoming one of the Revenge series finale's (many) casualties, David sacrificed his own future — what was left of it, anyway — by killing Victoria for Emily, thus saving her from a lifetime in prison. And only on this show would that be considered sweet.
BEST: Ice(land), Ice(land), Baby
Despite having his entire life turned upside down by the knowledge that he has a daughter (and, y’know, that the girl’s mom is one of half a dozen clones), Orphan Black‘s Cal was immediately committed to keeping Kira safe — even if that meant relocating to Iceland to protect his child.
WORST: Family Secrets
We know that The Big Bang Theory’s Howard has a complex (see: virtually nonexistent) relationship with his estranged father… but couldn’t Wolowitz’s old man have mentioned a half-brother at some point?
BEST: Good As Marigold
We were worried about Robert finding out that Marigold is Edith's daughter; he tends to be pretty unreasonable, even by Downton Abbey's standards. So imagine our surprise when he not only accepted the child, but welcomed her into the family with loving arms. Change is possible, people!
BEST: A Shoulder to Cry On
When Switched at Birth‘s Bay was wracked with guilt and confusion over a drunken night in bed with Tank, her dad John was there to comfort his daughter without giving it a second thought.
WORST: Costume Party
As Orange Is the New Black fans learned in the fourth episode of Season 3, Carrie “Big Boo” Black has fought against homophobia all her life. Even at 42 years old, as Carrie prepared to visit her estranged mother on her deathbed, Carrie’s dad continued to insult her sense of style, calling her taste in clothing “a costume” that she must stop wearing. Carrie’s perfect response to her ignorant dad — “I refuse to be invisible.” — was far more calm than what we were screaming at our computer screens.
BEST: Fire Away
So what if The Leftovers‘ Jill Garvey recently ditched her dad in order to join the Guilty Remnant cult? It didn’t stop Kevin from running into the GR house — which had been set on fire during a town riot — and saving his daughter from the flames without hesitation. Say what you will about Kevin (and his temperamental nature), but when it comes to parenting, he’s always done the best he can.
BEST: The Mother of All Sacrifices
We have a feeling that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Daisy (aka Skye) is going to need a lot of therapy after watching Cal kill her mother — but even though it might scar Daisy for life, Cal’s big sacrifice proved just how committed he is to protecting the girl.
WORST: Stannis’ Burning Love
The next time Game of Thrones' Melisandre looks into the fire, chances are she'll see Stannis Baratheon's daughter Shireen, whose terrified shrieks still haunt us long after she was burned on the pyre. After Stannis’ display of (extremely) tough love, we were glad to see Brienne — finale spoiler alert! — behead the man before he got anywhere near the Iron Throne.