I must admit that some of these shows were before my time so I can’t give a lot of my personal viewing experience on them. However I base my rankings on: the character of the father (i.e. how well this person acted and portrayed a father figure), how long the show aired (at least 5 seasons), viewer coverage, reviews, and popularity. Also this is only based from the character roles that these men portrayed on TV, and not their personal lives.
10. Tom Bosley as (Howard Cunningham) – Happy Days | Aired in 1975 | Lasted 12 Seasons
Tom Bosley was the husband and father figure of two kids growing up in the 50’s. This show featured plenty of iconic symbols of the 50’s such as burger diner’s, parlors, coolness, blue jean cuffs, and leather. Happy Days ran for 12 long season and features the great talent of Ron Howard (Richie Cunningham), and Henry Winkler (The Fonzie) Even though the show centered around the children growing up in 50’s there was still plenty of episodes where Bosley portrayed great father characteristics. Bosley’s character is a natural that shows is every episode.
9. Robert Reed as (Mike Brady) – The Brady Bunch | Aired in 1969 | Lasted 5 Seasons
(Sing along) “Here’s the story of a lovely lady who was bringing up three very lovely girls of her own. All them had hair of gold like their mother, the youngest one in curls. Here’s the story of a man named Brady, (Robert Reed) he was busy with 3 boys of his own, they were four men, all together, but they were all alone. Till the one day when the lady met this fellow and they knew it was much more than a hunch, that this group would somehow form a family. That’s the way we all became the Brady Bunch.“ Ok I think most of you know the song. If not just Google the song. Anyway Reed has to be on this list by maintaining as a father of six and a loving husband. With all the pieces to this family they yet got along. This show features awesome trips, family fun and togetherness in the family!
8. John Amos as (James) – Good Times | Aired 1975 | Lasted 6 Seasons
“James” was the husband and Father of the Evan’s family, which live in the Chicago ghetto. Good times often meant hard times for this family and James had his fair share of layoff, unemployment, and heartbreak often. Amos played a stern, yet caring father of his family who often had to put his foot down on rules of the house. The show mainly focused on different social and political issues that mainly affected this poor family. I loved James as a Father. The show kind of dwindled after Amos left the show but it is still a classic.
7. Conrad Bran as (Phillp Drummond) – Different Strokes | Aired in 1978 | Lasted 8 Seasons
Bran was the super rich dad who played Mr Drummond. Mr. Drummond was a windowed father of a daughter. Mr. Drummond’s housekeeper made a dying wish for him to take in her two sons. Drummond fulfilled this wish and adopted the two-orphaned black boys giving them a life full of riches. Even though Drummond is rich his character is very grounded and he is able to assist his new son’s in all of life’s challenges. This show portrayed great harmony between race relationships. This was a great show and I like the fact that even though his son’s were of a different race and they were adopted they still called him “Dad” and he called them “son.” Great show!
6. Andy Griffith as (Sheriff Andy Taylor) – The Andy Griffith Show | Aired in 1960 | Lasted 8 Seasons
Griffith played a windowed sheriff and father of one. Griffith has plenty of advice for his young with the help of his Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier).
5. Fred MacMurry as (Steve Douglas) – My Three Sons| Aired in 1960 | Lasted 12 Seasons
Douglas played a windowed father left to care for his three sons. The series is based off life’s up’s and down’s through the eyes of a single parent. I have to admit that I don’t quite remember watching a whole episode but I do know that this was a popular series for my parents and you just don’t last 12 seasons by accident.
4. Bill Cosby as (Cliff Huxtable) – The Cosby Show | Aired in 1984 | Lasted 8 Seasons
Cosby is featured as a successful African Amercian doctor married to a successful lawyer. This show is funny and has plenty of serious family topics as well. Cosby delivers plenty of laughs, life’s lesson and emphasize family values and the importance education. 80’s Classic!
3. Robert Young as (Jim Anderson) – Father Knows Best | Aired in 1954 | Lasted 6 + Seasons
Anderson played the family father who had all the answers because he knew best. This is another show that I didn’t get the opportunity to watch much but I know it was a popular show of the 50’s. This show I think defines this list.
2. Michael Landon as (Charles Ingalls) – Little House on the Prairie | Aired in 1974 | Lasted 9 Seasons
Landon played “Charles Ingalls” on the 1974 series, The Little House on the Prairie! His character portrayed hard working father, and a loving husband of his family. Although the Ingalls were not a wealthy family, this family yet portrayed all the good characteristics needed to hold a family together which was really portrayed by Mr. Landon’s character. Charles often found himself doing whatever he could to help his family such as working odd and dangerous jobs. Charles was the protector and defense of this family. He was fair as a father and always made sure he instilled good values into his children. Mr. Landon also directed most of these shows, which lasted 9 seasons. I watched this show as a kid and I recommend this today for my kids.
1. Hugh Beaumont as (Ward Cleaver)- Leave It to Beaver | Aired 1957 | Lasted 6 Seasons
Beaumont was the father character of the All American Family. The show mainly focused around the younger son “Beaver, who would get himself into little childhood troubles. Ward would ultimately offer good moral advice and help for his younger son, as lessons. Another show before my time but I believe if you polled those that watched this show this was the “All American Family.”
There are plenty more fathers that could be added to this list and I’m sure that I left out some good father figures from some other great shows. I think though we can agree that this list has some of the best!