TV Dads



Hi!  Winnie Griggs here.  By the time you read this Father’s Day will be over, but it is still in progress  as I write this and so I have fathers on my mind.  That being the case, I thought it might be fun to do a list of some of my favorite TV dads.  Some of them I had to reach way back for, some are more contemporary and some might surprise you as being from out in left field.  Since I didn’t want to rank them, I’m listing them in order of when their show debuted.  Here goes:


1958-1963 Lucas McCain played by Chuck Conners in The Rifleman.  Lucas was a widower raising his son in the New MexicoTerritory, and while he was never one to step back from a fight, he was also more concerned with teaching his son proper values then with anything else around him.


1959-1973 Ben Cartwright played by Lorne Greene in Bonanza.  A three time widower – he married in succession an English woman, a Swedish woman and a French Creole woman, each of whom bore him a son before dying.  This supposedly helped explain the differences in the three boys.  Ben was a strong patriarch,  ruling the Ponderosa with an iron fist but there was no doubt whatsoever that he loved his sons and they loved him.


1960-1968  Andy Taylor played by Andy Griffith on the Andy Griffith Show.  Lots of home spun wisdom delivered with warmth and humor in that wonderful southern drawl of his – what’s not to like?


1969-1972 Tom Corbett played by Bill Bixby on The Courtship Of Eddie’s Father.  What can I say – this show was on the air just before I headed off to college and at the time I was a sucker for Bill Bixby.

1984-1992  Cliff Huxtable played by Bill Cosby on The Cosby Show.  This has got to be everyone’s favorite TV dad.  Cosby played the role with his signature humor and wit, and the family dynamic was absolutely a joy to watch.

2004-2007 Keith Mars played by Enrico Colantoni on the Veronica Mars show.  I absolutely love the interaction between Keith and his daughter Veronica, and the love and respect between them is obvious.

2005-present  Seeley Booth played by David Boreanaz on Bones.  While Seeley’s role on the show is not primarily that of father I love the interaction he has with his son Parker and the way he portrays himself as a caring father whenever Parker is around or just when the talk turns to his son.


2009-present  Richard Castle played by Nathan Fillion on the show Castle.  While one could argue that he’s not the best of dads, the dynamic between him and his daughter Alexis is fun and witty.


I know there’s more great TV dads out there, but that’s 8 and I’m going to stop here.  Now it’s your turn.  Who did I forget that you would have put on the list?

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Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
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24 thoughts on “TV Dads”

  1. Well there was Robert Young in Father Knows Best, and what about Danny Thomas in Make Room for Daddy.
    Of what about Hugh Beaumont on Leave it to Beaver…
    Or James Broderick on “Family. So many good Father Roles on TV over the years.
    But I would have to say that “MR C.” on Happy Days was one of my all time favs..

  2. I’ve been watching a lot of the Walton’s re-runs and John Walton and his father Zeb Walton to me epitomize what a dad should be like. The love and respect those kids had for John really shines through. They worshiped their dad and he did them too always so proud of their accomplishments no matter how big or small.

    You made a great list, Winnie, and all are excellent dads. I laugh at Richard Castle’s attempts but he always gets things right in the end.

  3. I never even had a tv until 1960. And where we lived, it was lucky you could even see a picture. It was more of a guess what the people looked like. So, we relied on the radio, which wasn’t much better. Better reception at night. LIving in the high desert of Califoria, in a valley between 14,000 ft peaks made reception poor.
    Because of this, I missed a lot of TV over the years. With reruns, I have caught up on a lot, but missed it as it happened.

  4. CateS – LOL on Archie Bunker. I left out a lot of SitCom dads because I was looking for ones that made a positive impression on me as a father figure.

    Kathleen – Great list! I remember watching most of those shows as a kid and enjoying them.

  5. Linda – Ooooh yes, the Waltons. And I just relized I left Charles Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie off as well. Both great TV dads.

    MaryJ – I’ll bet that, since you never had much TV in your life growing up, you have a lot of great childhood memories of doing other things to recall.

  6. Your blog brings back some great memories, Winnie. Mary J I can share your lack of TV experience. We lived in a mountain valley where we couldn’t get the signal till 1959, when they put a microwave tower on a high ridge.
    Here’s a far-out addition to your list of TV fathers. I was hooked on “Beauty and the Beast” for most of its long run. The leader of the little underground band was a man known simply as “Father.” And he was a father to all of them.
    Oh, and I thought Gomez Adams was pretty cool, too.

  7. Elizabeth – Oh, I remember B&B too – great show. And LOL on the Adams family – I guess Gomez WAS pretty cool, in his own way!

    Kay – Hi!! So glad you stopped by.

  8. You picked all of my faves. And crazily enough they were the old ones. I don’t have a clue about any of the newer ones. One that hasn’t been mentioned yet is Tom Bosley as Mr. Cunningham on Happy Days. I’m gonna have to say though, even with all the good ones listed, John Walton and Lucas McCain are still my faves.

  9. Winnie, such a great selection! I was in tears more than once over the wonderful Charles Ingalls. Nobody did emotion better than Michael Landon.

    I hope everybody had a terrific Father’s Day. Our celebrations lasted all weekend and we’re still aglow. This isn’t a TV show although you can see it on TV now. I just LOVE Steve Martin (the dad) and Kimberly (daughter) Williams in the feature film Father of the Bride. It’s been out daughter’s favorite since she was little and “Weddings are big deals, George. Everybody gets that but you.” was my mantra during her wedding planning whenever hubby balked at something like, well, chargers under the dinner plates LOL.

    Love to all and have a great week.

  10. How about Brian Keith on Family Affair. The playboy uncle who ‘inherits’ three kids. There was so much humor and warmth and cluelessness on Brian Keith’s part on that show. I loved it.

  11. Tanya have you ever seen the original Father of the Bride with Spencer Tracy as the father and Elizabeth Taylor as the daughter.
    Oh My Gosh.
    This is a fantastic movie. Tracy is so funny. He has a nightmare where his pants fall off as he’s walking down the aisle. I laughed so hard I can still start laughing when I think of it. And Elizabeth Taylor was probably twenty years old or so. The absolute peak of her astounding beauty. The most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen playing that sweet young bride.
    Wonderful movie. I like the new one, too, but the original is amazing.

  12. Oh, yes, we watched the original and even found some of the same wedding gifts LOL. That ugly clock for one. xoxox Great movies, both. And sure show how standards have changed. The first bride has never left home, and aren’t they going to live with the folks afterward? And you’re right…she was SO young.

  13. Erin, glad you liked the list and those are some good ones that you added!

    Tanya – yes I can’t believe I forgot to put Charles Ingals on the list – loved that show! And our Father’s Day was great as well – had all four kids home which is always nice!

  14. Mary – I have always loved Brian Keith! If I had been listing movies rather than TV shows his role in the early version of The Parent Trap would have definitely made the list!

  15. Love all these shows you mentioned and still watch the old re-runs of them. Now I am getting into movies but didn’t Brian Keith play in the first Parent Trap movie. I just watched those last week.

  16. Quiltlady – LOL – see my post right ahead of yours – he was a GREAT dad in the Parent Trap movie, and Dennis Quaid did a good job in the later version as well

  17. winnie, what a great post. I loved Lucas McCain–great dad, as was Ben Cartwright. And Brian Keith in The Parent Trap–what a great role. I loved that movie, but I loved Maureen O’Hara and Brian Keith together. Here’s one, what about Tim Roth in LIE TO ME? Did anyone ever watch that show? Seems like it was on Fox. The girl who played his daughter, Hailey McFarland, started out here in OK at the acting studio where my daughter works, so we have kind of followed her career all along. She didn’t have a huge role in the show, but there was lots of good interaction between them–a father not knowing what the heck to do with a teenager, etc. I love the western dads. Here’s another one that is kind of obscure. What about the dad on the old western LANCER? Murdoch Lancer. He was from Scotland, and ended up owning a cattle empire in California. Had two sons by 2 different women, one was a dandy from Boston, and one was a gunfighter who had practically raised himself in the Mexican border towns. Loved that show. Great post, Winnie!

  18. Hi Cheryl – yes, Lie To Me was a great show and there was a good interaction between the dad and daughter – good one to add to the list. I don’t remember Lancer, but I may need to see if I can find it on Netflix after the description you gave – sounds like my kind of show!

  19. Probably can’t find it on Netflix, Winnie, but I think I might have an extra copy of that series here somewhere amidst the mess if you are interested–I’ll see if I can’t hunt them up. Most of them were really good, and the guys were such eye candy. James Stacy and Wayne Maunder. Google them and have a look.LOL

  20. You hit several of my favorites. I couldn’t understand why I didn’t recognize THE COURTSHIP OF EDDIE’S FATHER, then looked at the dates. I was in the Peace Corps most of that time and didn’t see a TV for 3 years. I never heard of the Veronica Mars Show. I have been trying to find CASTLE but haven’t yet.
    One show I would definitely add would be THE WALTONS. Loved that family with several good examples of good fatherhood. LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRARIE is another with several examples of good fathers and a few not so successful ones. I liked Tim Allen on HOME IMPROVEMENT. He was sometimes more of a kid than his sons, but his heart was in the right place.

    I check out LANCER and there is something familiar about it. I may have seen a few episodes before I left, but it too was on when I was overseas and TV-less.

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane with the old shows. We never missed an episode of BONANZA or THE WALTONS. I really miss those types of shows.

  21. Cheryl – I looked – definitely eye candy!!

    Patricia B. – Yep – The Waltons and Little House should definitely have been on the list. And I think you’re really enjoy Castle if you get to see it!

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