Twenty-Two of the Best TV & Movie Dads

This Sunday is the day to celebrate the special guy in our lives, our dad. Hopefully, you make every day special for your dad, but at least one day a year, our dads or husbands are treated extra special on Father's Day. With Father's Day fast approaching I was thinking about all the great dads I've come to love on the small and big screen.

And what makes a "good" dad? For me, a good father is a man that teaches his kids what's really important in life, who gives of their time and love (not money/gifts), and most importantly a good sense of humor… which is evident in most of my choices. 

So in honor of Father's Day, and all those great movie and TV dads, here are my favorites, along with a quote or two from them that represents the kind of dads they are. Is your favorite among mine?

Without further ado and in no particular order, here's my favorite TV and movie dads:

Atticus Finch

My all-time favorite movie dad, from my all-time favorite movie, To Kill A Mockingbird, from my all-time favorite book by Harper Lee.

"When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness sake. But don't make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion faster than adults, and evasion simply muddles 'em."

Cliff Huxtable

Dr. Cliff Huxtable is my favorite TV dad, for his no nonsense, keeping it real, and humorous way of parenting in The Cosby Show.

"A long, long time ago, three to four generations ago, parents didn't talk much to their children. At four A.M, the father would come home, look at his son sleeping, wake him up and say "Boy, go out and plough the field now". And the boy would rub his eye and say "Yes, pa". And occasionally, the son would ask the father how much he'd get paid. And the father grabbed the plough, and ran over his son. Those days are over, because we have become more civilized, more sophisticated, but it's still inside of me no matter how sophisticated I get. And it grows over time. Boy, when I say to one of my children to do something and they say "How much does it pay?", I think I'm going to buy a plough."

Howard Cunningham

Mr. C from Happy Days was everyone's dad.

"Well, what can I say? Both of our children are married now and they're starting out to build lives of their own. And I guess when you reach a milestone like this you have to have to reflect back on, on what you've done and, and what you've accomplished. Marion and I have not climbed Mount Everest or written a great American novel. But we've had the joy of raising two wonderful kids, and watching them and their friends grow up into loving adults. And now, we're gonna have the pleasure of watching them pass that love on to their children. And I guess no man or woman could ask for anything more. So thank you all for being, part of our family…"

Andy Taylor

Sheriff Andy Taylor always imparted pearls of wisdom to his son, Opie, on The Andy Griffith Show.

"Daylight's precious when your a youngen'." "And to think I was glad when you learned how to talk!" If you eat anymore, you'll swell up so tight your freckles will fall off!"

Sam Dawson

Sam from I Am Sam may have been mentally retarded and simple man, but his love of his daughter was so raw and huge.

"No, because it makes me happy! It makes me happy hearing you read. Yeah, it makes me happy when you're reading."

Clark Griswold

Poor ol' Clark, from the National Lampoon Vacation movies, is an accident prone, bumbling goof-ball. But there's no mistaking that everything he does he does for his family.

"Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny *beeping* Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse."


John Quincy Archibald

John Q is a father that will NOT take no for an answer when it comes to saving his son's life.


Ward Cleaver

From the golden age of television, Ward Cleaver, the patriarch of Leave It To Beaver, gave great advice to his sons, that still holds true today.

"When you're young, there are some thing you have to learn. How to catch a baseball. And good table manners don't come too easily. But when you're a boy, losing things is one of the few lessons you don't have to learn."

Charles Ingalls

Another one of my favorites is Charles, or most lovingly referred to as, Pa, on Little House on the Prairie

"You know we have a lot of funny notions born inside of us, Half-Pint. The funniest is that we're supposed to hide the way we feel about people. Let me tell you, everybody wants to know that they are loved, or needed, or cared about. Anybody who doesn't want to know that has something wrong with them."


The king in The Lion King, shows great love for his lion cub, Simba.

"I'm only brave when I have to be! Simba, being brave doesn't mean you go looking for trouble!"

Adam Braverman

Adam, from the TV series Parenthood, is a dad learning as he goes, how to be a dad to a special needs child. 

"I am very proud of you, not just because you won but because of how you conducted yourself. Alright, mostly because you won."

Joe Lorkowski

The quirky but lovable Joe in Sunshine Cleaning, is the father of two adult daughters and grandfather to one boy, is totally devoted to his kids. So much so that he sells his home to give the money to his daughter for a new start.

"It's a business lie, it's different from a life lie."

Mike Brady

Mike is the father of 3 sons and 3 step-daugters on The Brady Bunch. With six kids, he was always imparting advice and life lessons.

"Our house is more important than money. This neighborhood is more important than money. Tell me. How many times have we borrowed each other's power tools or patched up each other's kids? We know so much about each other. I know that every January, Mr. Yeager is going to have that big Super Bowl party at his house. We know that every spring, Mrs. Simmons is going to have the prettiest daffodils on the block. We know that at 10: 15 every Saturday morning, Mrs. Topping likes to walk through her living room naked. Call me old-fashioned, but these things are important, and they're not for sale. This is our neighborhood, and we're staying."

Chris Gardner

Chris is a struggling dad with sole custody of his son, in The Pursuit of Happyness, doing everything he can to make life better for them.

"I met my father for the first time when I was 28 years old. I made up my mind that when I had children, my children were going to know who their father was."

Daniel Hillard

Daniel, otherwise known as, Mrs. Doubtfire, finds himself divorced. So to spend more time with his kids, he disguises himself as a housekeeper in his ex-wife's home.

"Oh, my dear Katie. You know, some parents, when they're angry, they get along much better when they don't live together. They don't fight all the time, and they can become better people, and much better mummies and daddies for you. And sometimes they get back together. And sometimes they don't, dear. And if they don't, don't blame yourself. Just because they don't love each other anymore, doesn't mean that they don't love you. There are all sorts of different families, Katie. Some families have one mommy, some families have one daddy, or two families. And some children live with their uncle or aunt. Some live with their grandparents, and some children live with foster parents. And some live in separate homes, in separate neighborhoods, in different areas of the country – and they may not see each other for days, or weeks, months… even years at a time. But if there's love, dear… those are the ties that bind, and you'll have a family in your heart, forever."

Bryan Mills

Not the conventional dad, compared to most on this list, but Bryan is a devoted father that risks life and limb to save his daugther in the action film, Taken.

"I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you."

The Unnamed Father

The father in The Road, travels with his son in an apocalyptic world doing all he can to keep them safe.

"If I were God, I would have made the world just so and no different. And so I have you… I have you."

Mac MacGuff

The father of an unwed, teenage daughter, in Juno. It's easy to see where, Juno gets her sarcasm and wit from.

"Look, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person is still going to think the sun shines out your ass. That's the kind of person that's worth sticking with."

Dan Burns

In Dan In Real Life, Dan is a single dad devoted to his children.

"Instead of telling our young people to plan ahead, we should tell them to plan to be surprised."

Gil Buckman

This is the first of three movie dads, all played by Steve Martin. What's funny is, Steve Martin isn't a father in real life, but warrants three spots on this list. As Gil, in Parenthood, he is learning how to be a good dad… not always an easy road.

"This was a great symbolic moment of my life. My father dumping me with you… it's why I swore things would be different with my kids. It's my dream. Strong, happy, confident kids."

George Banks

George in the Father of the Bride, is a dad to a daughter getting married. And, it's tough letting your baby girl go.

"I used to think a wedding was a simple affair. Boy and girl meet, they fall in love, he buys a ring, she buys a dress, they say I do. I was wrong. That's getting married. A wedding is an entirely different proposition. I know. I've just been through one. Not my own, my daughter's. Annie Banks Mackenzie. That's her married name: Mackenzie. You fathers will understand. You have a little girl. An adorable little girl who looks up to you and adores you in a way you could never have imagined. I remember how her little hand used to fit inside mine. Then comes the day when she wants to get her ears pierced, and wants you to drop her off a block before the movie theater. From that moment on you're in a constant panic. You worry about her meeting the wrong kind of guy, the kind of guy who only wants one thing, and you know exactly what that one thing is, because it's the same thing you wanted when you were their age. Then, you stop worrying about her meeting the wrong guy, and you worry about her meeting the right guy. That's the greatest fear of all, because, then you lose her. It was just six months ago that that happened here. Just six months ago, that the storm broke."

Tom Baker

Tom in Cheaper by the Dozen (and the third of my Steve Martin dads), is a stay at home dad of twelve (yes, 12) kids. So he has to learn some things about being a good dad.

"I have done it, she is gone! Now I can raise you children the way I want to! Mwa ha ha, ha ha, ha!"

Well there you have it, some of my favorite dads. I'd love to hear who your favorite TV or movie dad is. Because I'm sure I've left off many great dads. And to all you dads out there, Happy Father's Day!


  1. @Steven – ah, he’s a good one. Although he could fall on my "good" and "bad" dad list. 🙂

  2. Danny – dang, Marlin is a good one. I can’t believe I forgot him.

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