It’s Father’s Day this weekend. So, have a catch with dad and maybe look back on these TV dads who defined fatherhood for an entire TV era.
Danny Tanner, Full House
It seemed like every single episode of Full House was a very special episode. Maybe that’s because he was a single father raising three girls (with the help of his brother in law and friend . . . whom he also seemed to be raising). You could always count on Danny Tanner for very sweet life advice, followed by some witty banter with Kimmy Gibbler, the real star of the show.
Philip Banks, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Uncle Phil is a complex guy for a 90s sitcom dad. He spoils his children rotten at times, but is also as strict as you’d expect a judge to be. He’s the head of the household, but also the butt of everyone’s jokes—especially his long-suffering butler, Geoffrey. And even though he was Will’s uncle, he was really a father. Remember the “How come he don’t want me?” scene?
Frank Lambert, Step by Step
How does a guy go from laid-back dad to a father made of sterner stuff? Well, if you’re Frank Lambert, you marry a woman who brings her three kids to your family that already has three kids. If Step by Step taught anyone anything, it’s that not all families look the same, not all parent-child relationships need to be identical, and parents can grown and change with their kids.
Carl Winslow, Family Matters
Fun fact: Family Matters was a spinoff of Perfect Strangers, and a big reason it got made is the popularity of Carl Winslow as a tough but friendly cop. Family Matters let audiences into his life as a father. He enforced the rules, but he also let his guard down and made sure his kids saw him as a caring father too.
Hank Hill, King of the Hill
He sells propane and propane accessories, works hard at being a good friend to his trying neighbours, is a loyal employee to a crooked boss, loves a woman who can be a touch overbearing, is a devoted son to his mean-spirited father, and struggles mightily to be a good father to his son Bobby. Bobby Hill frequently acts in ways that defy Hank’s comprehension (name another twelve year old who develops gout after eating too much deli food), but Hank never gives up on trying to be a better dad to Bobby. Fittingly, the whole series culminates with the two bonding over propane grills.
Dan Connor, Roseanne
Dan is a hardworking, frequently down-on-his-luck guy just doing his best to put food on the table. Along the way, he helps his sister-in-law out of an abusive situation, learns some hard lessons about his own mother’s mental health, and acts every bit the family patriarch as his brood grows larger with new members. Dan had the biggest heart on a show full of heart, and that’s what we love about him.
The Big Takeaway
90s TV dads may have been the butt of the joke all too often, but they were devoted guys who did a lot of listening and never let sitcom hijinks get in the way of good parenting. Happy Father’s Day, fellas.
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