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Daddy Dearest: Our Tribute to TV Fathers

When it comes to TV, there are way more fabulous and high-profile roles for moms and the poor dads get the short shrift. However, we spent minutes weeks hunting through Wikipedia and our collective minds the annals of television for the best and worst TV dads that we could remember. Well, at least these are the ones that left an indelible mark on us, and not with wire hangers or anything (though we may not put that past some of the dastardly daddies on our naughty list). So in honor of Father's Day, here's our slapped together long-awaited list in alphabetical order (because we just couldn't decide if Jack Bristow or Keith Mars would be the No. 1 perfect patriarch).

The Good

Michael Bluth, Arrested Development
Sweet-faced widower and bicycling enthusiast Michael Bluth is the exception to the Bluth family rule -- a shining beacon of all things ethical, upstanding and good. In fact, his mantra is "family first." He's always trying to get closer to his awkward, incest-inclined son George Michael and trying to instill the values he holds dear. And anyone who can put up with Gangy for forty-odd years without developing serious complexes should be up for sainthood.

Mike Brady, Brady Bunch
Here's the story, of a man name Brady, who managed to live with six kids and a maid and not go completely insane. With tightly curly stylish hair and super tight pants, he was cool, but stern. Tough, but understanding, and even let his wackadoo son take over his office and turn it into a hippie dippy bedroom. Plus, his architect job allowed from some kickin' vacations to Hawaii, the Grand Canyon and other fun bonding trips. For six kids, that can't be cheap.

Jack Bristow, Alias
When Jack's daughter gets taken into federal custody for assassinating a diplomat, he doesn't just call his lawyer. He calls Richard Roundtree, goes to one of his many Terminator 2 weapons arsenals for ammo and a few hundred thousand dollars in cash, puts an assault team together and storms the facility himself to bust her out. He basically makes your dad look like Anthony Cooper (see bad dads if that name doesn't ring a bell.)

Sandy Cohen, The O.C.
He surfs. He's got principles. He's got the largest eyebrows known to man. He spawned the adorkable Seth Cohen. He was raised by "The Nana" and still turned out like a normal human being. He's got mad legal skills. He adopted a street kid and let him live in his pimped out pool house. Yeah, he pretty much just rocks.

Cliff Huxtable, The Cosby Show
What can top Cliff's cool and colorful sweater collection? Not a hell of a lot. Besides his keen sense of style, he was a successful doctor managing to raise five children, while still having fun and cracking jokes along the way. Pretty much your perfect sitcom dad.

Keith Mars, Veronica Mars
Bad-ass sheriff, private investigator and amazing single-dad with a wicked sense of humor? Who'd have thought it possible. Veronica needed to thank her lucky stars that her proud papa wasn't the stuck up Jake Kane and was instead a sweet and caring guy who would run background checks on her boyfriends and rescue her from kidnappers while doling out lectures in quick-witted banter that would make Lorelai Gilmore's head spin. Plus, he's just a really cool dude who'd be awesome to hang with.

Harry Morgan, Dexter's adoptive dad from Dexter
True, maybe he didn't give his real daughter Debra the attention she deserved, but he was trying to tame a serial killer, for crying out loud! He took a kid who was a sure bet to go and kill people and turned him into a crime-fighting machine, albeit a machine that dismembers people. Also, he has the same name as the actor from M*A*S*H.

Elliott Stabler, Law & Order: SVU
Sure, he's got anger issues, he kinda sorta almost divorced his babies' mama and there was that whole weird interlude with Connie Nielsen's character during his trial separation, but Elliott means well and that counts for a lot. Remember when his daughter got a DUI and he called in favors to bail her out? If purjury and obstruction of justice doesn't spell familial love I don't know what does.

Ignacio Suarez, Ugly Betty
So he may have sort of attempted murder and then come into America illegally, but it was all for love. And he cooks breakfast like nobody's business and always has a cupcake on hand when Betty or Hilda are emotional wrecks. The single-dad even manages to refrain from saying "I told you so" when his kids get their hearts broken ... again.

Eric Taylor, Friday Night Lights
Eric Taylor may have two biological children, but the Panthers coach is basically a surrogate father for the 40 or so boys on his team. They look to him for guidance both on and off the field. Hell, he'll pick up kids from bars or jail in the middle of the night in order to make sure they are safe. And when it comes to his teenage daughter Julie, he's often frustrated, but is so sweetly caring that you can't help but love him. He even quit his big fancy college gig to spend more time at home. Don't even get us started at how amazing he looks with his infant daughter.

The Bad:

Howie "The Captain" Archibald, Gossip Girl
He's the quintessential uptight, repressed WASP. He's got the stupid, boating-related nickname, the raging drug problem, the legal problems, a Naval ranking and generations of experience breaking the will of the youth behind him. He's constantly putting pressure on Nate to do him proud, i.e. go to Dartmouth, because clearly that's the only way he'll ever amount to anything.

George Bluth, Arrested Development
As patriarch of the largely amoral Bluth clan, it stands to reason that George Senior has the least scruples of them all. This is the man who invented the hazardous Corn Baller (which is still inflicting grease burns in the Third World to this day), cheated on his wife with Judy Greer, spent a good portion of his golden years in jail for light treason and sold out every member of his family at one point or other, sometimes for nothing more than an ice cream sandwich.

Al Bundy, Married With Children
Rude, crude and just plain disgusting. Al seemed to resent his children and the fact that they were nothing but a burden to his ever growing debt and were just one more way to keep him stuck in his dead end job. He was especially unsupportive of his dimwitted daughter; we suspect he would have pimped her out if it could have made him a quick buck. And putting your hands down your pants in front of your kids ... not cool.

Archie Bunker, All in the Family
We could make the argument that his bigotry was just due to the times he was in, but the abrasive guy one of the forerunners for bad dads on the boob tube. He constantly berated his son-in-law and alienated his daughter in the process with his racist and insulting remarks. Interesting character to watch, but not a guy you'd want to call papa.

Cigarette Smoking Man, The X-Files
While he did do a few nice things for his son, Mulder (finding a cure for his best bud Scully's cancer, not shooting him in the face when he was trying to expose him), he did pretty much terrorize him for the entire run of the show by blocking his attempts to discover the whereabouts of his sister, who he and Mulder's pretend dad gave to their extraterrestrial friends back in the swingin' '70s. Oh, and he has another son named Jeffrey, who he tried to kill one time, which is way uncool.

Anthony Cooper/Tom Sawyer, Lost
This dirtball abandoned his son (John Locke) to go a-conning around the country, only to seek him out again later in life for the sole purpose of tricking him into giving him a kidney. If that weren't bad enough, a few years later he pushed his one-kidneyed kid out of a 8-story window, leaving him wheelchair-bound and bitter as hell.

Thatcher Grey, Grey's Anatomy
Talk about your absentee dads. After he ditches Meredith's mom, he basically ignores his kid for 20 years. He's got a pretty new family, with a nice sane woman, and a super perky daughter who doesn't fantasize about killing herself or have the baggage of a nutball mom. Plus, when he does reunite with his eldest child, the alcoholic dad basically blames Meredith for the death of his perfect new wife and then hauls off and slaps her. Bastard.

Hal, Malcolm in the Middle
Not only does he live in perpetual fear of his wife, so he can't defend his children from her, but he's constantly hanging around the house naked. Also, he has apparently passed some sort of spastic gene on to his sons that won't allow them to behave normally around women.

Ted Mosby, How I Met Your Mother
Have you met Ted? He's your average ordinary regular guy, except that in the future, he is king of the overshare. Basically he's spending time telling his kids how he met his future baby mama and in the process regales them with stories about his oversexed friends, his short-lived flings and hookups and his drug and alcohol abuse. Now while admittedly it is good to be honest with your kids, there's a line to be drawn. Frankly, we're surprised that social services isn't all over this case.

Tony Soprano, The Sopranos
It isn't just the fact that he's in the mob that earned him a spot on the list. That's part of it, for sure, but the fact that he killed off his "like a son" nephew in cold blood, kind of makes him a piss poor padre. He tries with his kids, sort of, but in between his moments of pride, he scared off at least one of Meadow's boyfriends and fails to inspire his son. The yelling really helps.

Written by Angel Cohn, Lauren Gitlin, Mindy Monez, Zach Oat and Kate Rogan

Got one of those bad dads and looking for a way to avoid your parental unit on father's day? Check out our list of summer shows and current TV recommendations.

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