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Here are the 20 best TV dads from the last 30 years

From "Family Matters" to "The Simpsons," it's time to honor the father figures we grew up loving.
best tv dads father's day 2020
ABC/NBC/ Courtesy of the Everett Collection
/ Source: TODAY

In honor of Father's Day 2020, we're recognizing some of the iconic TV dads who have entered our living rooms over the last few decades.

While some of these patriarchs are on our list because of their exceptional parenting ways, others are here because of their ability to keep familial matters just so freakin' funny.

20. Walter White ("Breaking Bad")

BREAKING BAD, (from left): Anna Gunn, Bryan Cranston, 'Felina', (Season 5, ep. 516, aired Sept. 29,
(C)AMC / Courtesy Everett Collection

Even before a cancer diagnosis made him turn to cooking meth to provide for his family, Walter White was always determined to take care of his loved ones. Whether that meant working two jobs or dealing with violent drug lords, he almost always put his children first, no matter what it took.

19. Tywin Lannister ("Game of Thrones")


Let’s face it: Tywin Lannister is not a “good” dad. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But the conniving patriarch’s ruthless antics are endlessly fascinating to watch. Plus, we think it’s only fair that he make this list seeing as he was (spoiler alert!) killed off on Father’s Day … while sitting on the toilet no less.

18. Michael Bluth ("Arrested Development")

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, (from left): Michael Cera, Jason Bateman, 'Flight of the Phoenix', (Season 4,

There’s no doubt Michael Bluth’s a family man. After all, he spends season after season supporting his semi-delusional siblings and parents. But it’s his relationship with his son George Michael that really showcases his best dad-like qualities. He’s protective, encouraging and loving, even when everything seems to be crumbling around him.

17. Bob Belcher ("Bob's Burgers")

BOB'S BURGERS, (from left): Tina Belcher, Bob Belcher, Linda Belcher, Louise Belcher, Gene Belcher,
(C)20thCentFox / Courtesy Everett Collection

The head of this cartoon family always embraces the wacky and weird character traits of his wife and kids, while still being super tolerant, supportive and loving. Sure, he flips his lid once in awhile, but most of the time he can be found busting his butt making ends "meat" for his family of five, by slaving over a hot burger griddle all day. Bob is "dad goals" all around!

16. Frank Costanza ("Seinfeld")

SEINFELD, Estelle Harris, Jason Alexander, Jerry Stiller. 1990 - 1998 (c) Columbia TriStar Televisio
(C)Columbia Tristar / Courtesy Everett Collection

The highly volatile Frank Costanza, the father of George Costanza, argued with pretty much everyone. So while he is on our list of the best TV dads, he secured his spot pretty much because he was the absolute worst. To his credit, he did come up with Festivus, which is pretty awesome and is still celebrated today by die hard "Seinfeld" fans.

15. Sandy Cohen ("The O.C.")

THE O.C., Benjamin McKenzie, Adam Brody, Kelly Rowan, Peter Gallagher, 'The Party Favor', (Season 3,
(C)Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection

There’s no doubt Sandy Cohen, who raised lovably geeky Seth while welcoming troubled teen Ryan Atwood into his family's home, is Newport Beach’s finest dad. Sandy nails parenting, whether dispensing heartfelt fatherly advice, setting up the Chrismukkah tree or preparing a bagel breakfast. As his wife Kirsten noted, “He’s an artist with cream cheese.” Plus, he has the best eyebrows (“It’s a sign of power, you know.”).

14. Raymond Barone ("Everybody Loves Raymond")

EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, (top, from left): Patricia Heaton, Ray Romano, (bottom): Madylin Sweeten,
(C)CBS / Courtesy Everett Collection

Ray Barone might be a little clueless when it comes to helping out around the house, but there's never any doubt about his love for his three children. Whether he's trying to help his daughter sell cookies or win an argument with his sons' school, he'll always support his kids — usually in the most hilarious way.

13. Tony Soprano ("The Sopranos")

THE SOPRANOS, Robert Iler, James Gandolfini, (Season 7), 1999-2007. photo: Craig Blankenhorn / (C) HBO
(C)HBO / Courtesy Everett Collection

Tony Soprano might not want his children to follow him into the family business, but he's used his time in the mob to provide for his wife and two children and make all their goals accessible. When he's not working in "waste management," he's always available to offer fatherly advice, help his kids work through their problems or just enjoy a family dinner at the local diner.

12. Homer Simpson ("The Simpsons")

Courtesy Everett Collection

Over the course of more than 30 seasons, Homer Simpson proves that fatherhood and hilarity are not mutually exclusive. In his nonsensical manner, Homer manages to teach his three children that even when life gets messy, it’s possible to laugh and have fun along the way.

11. Steve Brady ("Sex and the City")

SEX AND THE CITY, (from left): Cynthia Nixon, David Eigenberg, 'One', (Season 6, ep. 612, aired Sept
(C)HBO / Courtesy Everett Collection

Who doesn't love Steve! The off-again, on-again romantic partner to Miranda Hobbes, Steve was the good guy who almost finished last. Thankfully for us viewers, he always sticks around to deal with Miranda's cynical ways and shows up for their son Brady no matter what.

10. Johnny Rose ("Schitt's Creek")


The perennial optimist, Johnny Rose is the dad you want by your side when things get tough. And his fatherly advice extends to those beyond his immediate family, too. One of the sweetest parts of “Schitt’s Creek” is seeing his pseudo-father-daughter relationship with Stevie develop over the years.

9. Eric Taylor ("Friday Night Lights")

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, Kyle Chandler, Zach Gilford, 2006-2011,  (C)NBC / Courtesy Everett Collections

Though Eric Taylor is a loving father to his children, he also acts as a father to his football team. As the head coach of the Dillon Panthers, he leads by example and treats each of his players with an unyielding sense of respect and care.

8. Andre "Dre" Johnson ("black-ish")

Mitch Haaseth / ABC

This father of five has the whole “dad” thing down to a science. When a serious conversation needs to happen, he levels with his kids for some pretty powerful heart-to-hearts. But he’s also not one to shy away from poking a little fun at them when they’re being dumb kids. Plus, he’s got a pretty fantastic shoe collection.

7. Danny Tanner ("Full House")

FULL HOUSE, (from left): Dave Coulier, Jodie Sweetin, Candace Cameron, Bob Saget, Ashley/Mary-Kate O
(C)Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection

If there is one thing Danny Tanner loves more than cleaning, it's his three daughters. The widowed father from “Full House” runs a tight ship at home, but he cares deeply for his family and does anything he can to protect them.

6. Carl Winslow ("Family Matters")

FAMILY MATTERS, Jaleel White (1994), Reginald VelJohnson, 1989-98
Courtesy Everett Collection

True ... he may have lost his cool most of the time, but you have to give the guy credit for putting up with Steve Urkel’s extra-ness as well as he did.

5. Randall Pearson ("This Is Us")

This Is Us - Season 4

One third of "the Big Three," many of the moments that give us major mushy feels on "This Is Us" are because of Randall's dad duty skills, which he puts to work on his three daughters: Tess, Annie and Deja. From accepting Tess when she comes out as LGBTQ to navigating the difficulties of fostering a teenager, Randall steps in the footsteps of his dad, Jack Pearson, with honor and integrity.

4. Dan Conner ("Roseanne")

Andrew Eccles / ABC

Dan Conner, the levelheaded, easygoing patriarch from “Roseanne,” is a reliable and caring father. His four children can always count on him to crack a quick joke, cheer on his favorite Chicago sports teams and be there when they need him most.

3. Philip Banks ("The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air")

THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR, (from left): James Avery, Will Smith, (1991), 1990-96. (C) NBC / Courtesy

Philip Banks, otherwise known as “Uncle Phil,” is the hot-tempered and fiercely loving father figure on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Though he has little patience for the mischievous antics of his children and nephew, he does everything in his power to support his family.

2. Phil Dunphy ("Modern Family")

Evans Ward / ABC

The quintessential "cool dad" gone hilariously wrong, Phil Dunphy craves the approval of others. Equipped with his parenting method that he calls "peerenting," a combination of talking like a peer but acting like a parent, he misses the mark and trips on more than just that loose step. Still, the love he has for his modern family always trumps his dopey and goofy actions, ranking him high on our list of the best TV dads ever.

1. Jack Pearson ("This Is Us")

This Is Us - Season 4

In our number one spot is the patriarch of the Pearson clan, played by Milo Ventimiglia. He always swoops in at the perfect moment to help his children — the Big Three — feel accepted and loved for exactly who they are. He champions self-love overall, while still showing up for his family whenever they need him and giving them an insurmountable amount of unconditional love.