Father's Day Countdown

Father's Day Top 10 Countdown: Television's Best Dads

While you’re busy narrowing down your Father’s Day gift this year to a tie or… um, well, a different tie, your friends at TVLine have a present for you: It’s a countdown of Television’s Best Dads.

Since this is a Current Series Edition, you won’t find famous fathers like My Three Sons‘ Steve Douglas, The Brady Bunch‘s Mike Brady or The Cosby Show‘s Cliff Huxtable on the list. But the countdown does include, among others, the top pops from The Real O’Neals, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, and a couple of picks that might cause you to use language to which your father would probably object. (Well, unless he’s using it himself. We know how that goes.)

When selecting the best of the best, we primarily took into consideration prospective slot-getters’ devotion to their children rather than, say, their overall goodness. Because you can be a terrific father but a horrible person, can’t you? Maybe that’s a debate for the comments section.

At any rate, if you click on the gallery below, you can review our choices for Television’s Top Dads, then vote in the poll to let us know how well — or how badly — you think we did.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Martina says:

    Very surprised Phil Dunphy didn’t make the list

    • Daphne says:

      That was my 1st thought too! Phil Dunphy is pretty much as great as Joe West and definitely 1,000,000x better than Malcolm Merlyn!!

    • Tom says:

      You do know the Office clone Modern Family isn’t actually the best show on TV yes?

      • Anon says:

        You do know that this has nothing to do with show quality and that Phil Dunphy should 100% be on this list yes?

      • Anna says:

        I’m often on the train of “let’s stop pretending that Modern Family is the best show ever”, but Phil Dunphy is a god among dads.

    • grazelled says:

      Phil Dunphy should have been on this list of shows airing now. Come on, he wrote Phil’s Osophy (or something like that) for his kids to know how to handle life and he’s a great dad!

  2. Yay, I love it that Mike Heck made the list haha
    And Rogelio is so great as well!!

  3. TVPeong says:

    Joe!! Such a great dad to Barry and Iris.

  4. Steven says:

    I’d include Murray Goldberg. While he’s often withdrawn when he does open his heart to his kids it’s a really tearjerking moment. And deep down you know he’s trying the best he can given how his dad was.

  5. Eric7740 says:

    Phil Dunphy!!!!
    Thank you for Mike Heck and Pat O’Neal

  6. Bwhit says:

    I love that Klaus made it….. his love for his ‘littlest wolf’ is something I’d never thought could come from him but it’s some of the best moments on the show. I can’t believe Avery Barkley isn’t on here…. He’s one of the best dads on TV, Cadence has been his world since she was born.

  7. LB says:

    Mike Heck is awesome! I would love to see TV Line’s all-time greats list, though. I would include Charles Ingalls, Philip Banks, Danny Tanner, Carl Winslow, Adam Braverman, and Sandy Cohen. So many great ones from which to choose!

  8. Jane says:

    Klaus & Mike Heck would be my top two from the list.

    I would like to add Louis Huang to the list. I know that Constance Wu as Jessica gets all of the praise but if it wasn’t for Louis’ balancing gentleness and understanding Jessica would be an unbearable shrew.

  9. Nick Hogan says:

    Pat O’Neal Rules

  10. Tom says:

    Cliff Huxtable, really?

  11. webly3 says:

    Bob Belcher is the best dad on TV hands down (but he is animated so…)

    • Marissa L says:

      Agreed! What other dad would dress up as an Equestranaut and memorize all that trivia just to save his daughter’s horse figurine? lol

  12. Kevin says:

    I am utterly appalled that Parenthood’s Adam Braverman was not number 1, never mind not included in the list whether the show is off air or not.

  13. Carrie says:

    Joe is definitely the best TV dad, but I have no clue what Malcolm is doing on the list. He should’ve been killed off a long time ago.

  14. Kat says:

    Where’s Nashville Avery?

  15. JT says:

    No Cory Matthews? He’s a father not only to Riley and Auggie, but also a sort of surrogate father to Maya!

  16. Gil Thorpe says:


  17. ToyCannon says:

    Before I clicked on the slideshow I thought that Joe West should be number one. You did not disappoint. He is the best TV Dad since The O.C.’s Sandy Cohen.

  18. Jimmy says:

    No Murray Goldburg?! He’s one of the best, by a long shot. So many of his scenes with the kids choke me up.

  19. kath says:

    Joe West on The Flash is a great dad only if you’re of the XY persuasion. He’s wonderful to foster son Barry and he does everything he can for Wally, the son he just found he has. Why, he even invited Wally to live with him, after making sure to ask Barry is he’s okay with that since Barry has moved home too. Too bad Joe totally forgot to ask Iris, he biological daughter.

    Time to realize you have a daughter, Joe, and that she’s not chopped liver. Even Malcolm Merlyn does more for his daughter than you do.

  20. Ally Oop says:

    Here’s the top 9 from the shows I watch:
    Dr.Turner, Call the Midwife
    Klaus, The Originals
    Pops, The Goldbergs
    Avery, Nashville
    Tom, Downton Abbey
    Louis, Fresh off the Boat
    Robert, Downton Abbey
    Walt, Longmire
    Sam, Game of Thrones

  21. N says:

    Mike Heck

  22. Chad says:

    Without Homer Simpson this list is a completely worthless waste of time.

  23. laurelnev says:

    You mean David Charming didn’t make the list? Running off to Underbrooke and leaving your newborn, after sending big sis through a tree portal alone, doesn’t qualify him? :D

  24. JC1 says:

    Malcolm Merlyn is an awful father. Just this season he refused to give up control of the League of Assassins in order to save Thea’s life, and last season he drugged her to kill her friend, thus deliberating painting a target on her so that Oliver would be forced to intervene. He only loves her when it doesn’t get in the way of his self interest. I was deeply disappointed that Thea didn’t kill him this season. I know JB is charming, but the writers’ fascination with Malcolm is a huge problem with this show, and it’s ruining the character of Thea. I mean, just for one thing, they threw away what could have been an interesting plot line for Thea (having the power to weaken Damien Dahrk) in service of yet another redundant Merlyn/Oliver conflict storyline.
    Sorry. I have a lot of feelings about Malcolm, none of them good.
    As for Joe West, I love the character, and I love his relationship with Barry, but I sadly have to agree that his relationship with his daughter tends to fall short. :(

  25. Sarah says:

    Countless list of reasons why Malcolm Merlyn is a horrible father aside (just…no.) how did he make the list but John Dingle did not?!??

  26. Dan the critic says:

    What, no Homer Simpson?

  27. Daniel snow says:

    Rick Grimes!!!!!!

  28. Cece says:

    For a moment I didn’t realize this was only shows currently on the air– I was like “WHERE IS ERIC TAYLOR!?” He wasn’t just a dad to his own daughters but to two entire football teams as well. My vote for all-time TV dad. And I know we only got to see him as a dad for less than 42 minutes, but Tony DiNozzo from NCIS seemed like he was taking to fatherhood just fine in his last episode.

  29. Quill says:

    Wish Alaric from The Vampire Diaries had made the list. Extremely protective of his 2 little girls. As soon as they were born, he got right out of Mystic Falls & moved to Dallas to keep them safe. Then sent them into hiding with Caroline when things got really dangerous. Not to mention the vervain he has hidden everywhere at home to protect them from vampires!

  30. Azu says:

    Rick grimes is number 1 on my list! That guy is crazy when it comes to his kids!!! I love it!

  31. Dina says:

    If this were a different year, I would be mad that Rick Castle isn’t on the list. But Castle honestly wasn’t the very best father this year. He kind of didn’t think a lot about Alexis’s emotional well-being while running at danger.