From scripted to reality TV offerings, these are the TV dads we love

Phil Dunphy is one of the most loveable characters on “Modern Family”. Picture: X

Phil Dunphy is one of the most loveable characters on “Modern Family”. Picture: X

Published Jun 16, 2024


Fathers have been a staple of television storytelling since the early days of the medium. They come in all shapes and sizes, each bringing their unique brand of fatherhood to our screens.

From the comedic to the dramatic, TV dads play a crucial role in reflecting and shaping our perceptions of what it means to be a father.

Below, we take a look at some of the most iconic TV dads on the small screen.

The classic American dads

When we think of TV dads, it’s hard not to start with some of the classics. Take Philip Banks from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air“. Played by the late James Avery, Uncle Phil, as he’s affectionately known, was a towering presence, figuratively and literally.

As the stern yet loving patriarch of the Banks family, Uncle Phil dispensed tough love and sage advice in equal measure.

His unwavering support of his children, both biological and adopted, became a testament to the power of family and the importance of standing by those you love, no matter what.

In more recent years, Phil Dunphy from “Modern Family”, has captured our hearts. Ty Burrell’s performance as the bumbling but well-meaning dad has provided endless laughs.

His earnest attempts to connect with his kids, despite his often misguided efforts, make him one of the most relatable and lovable TV dads.

Andre “Dre” Johnson from “Black-ish,” played by Anthony Anderson, is also a favourite. He navigates the challenges of raising his kids in a predominantly white, upper-middle-class neighbourhood while trying to keep them connected to their cultural roots.

His humorous yet poignant approach to parenting tackles issues of race, identity, and tradition with a perfect mix of comedy and heart.

“Black-ish”. Picture: Instagram

The gritty and realistic

On the other end of the spectrum, we have dads who bring a dose of reality to our screens.

Walter White from “Breaking Bad” might not be the dad you want in your life, but Bryan Cranston’s portrayal of a high school teacher turned meth kingpin is unforgettable.

White’s descent into darkness shows the lengths a father might go to provide for his family, even when those lengths are morally questionable.

Then there’s Jack Pearson from “This Is Us”. Milo Ventimiglia’s Jack is almost too good to be true.

He’s caring, deeply flawed and fiercely protective. Jack’s story, told through flashbacks, shows the enduring impact a father can have on his children, even after he’s gone.

Jack Pearson, “This Is Us”. Picture: X

South African icons

South Africa has its own share of memorable TV dads. Hendrik van Tonder from “Orkney Snork Nie” is a beloved character who brought humour and warmth to South African screens.

His quirky personality and heart-warming interactions with his family made him a favourite in many households.

Lionel Foster in “Arendsvlei”. Picture: Facebook

Lastly, the world of South African soap operas brings us fathers like Lionel Foster from “Arendsvlei.=”.

Lionel, portrayed by Jody Abrahams, is a dedicated father and school principal who often finds himself balancing the demands of his job with the complexities of family life.

His character is a cornerstone of the community, showing the powerful impact a father can have.

The animated greats

“Bob’s Burgers”. Picture: X

Let’s not forget the animated dads who have left a lasting impression. Homer Simpson from “The Simpsons” is perhaps the most iconic of them all.

Despite his many flaws, Homer’s love for his family is undeniable. He might not always get it right, but his heart is in the right place.

Similarly, Bob Belcher from “Bob’s Burgers” is the hard-working dad running a small business while juggling the quirks of his three kids. His laid-back demeanour and unwavering support make him a modern-day animated hero.

And then there’s Peter Griffin from “Family Guy”. Voiced by Seth MacFarlane, Peter’s antics and often inappropriate behaviour provide a comedic but sometimes touching look at the everyday struggles and absurdities of family life.

Reality show dads

Reality TV has given us a peek into the lives of real dads, showcasing the joys and challenges of fatherhood without a script.

Bruce Jenner (Caitlyn Jenner) from “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” was a prominent figure as the father and stepfather in the Kardashian-Jenner clan. His journey through fatherhood and personal transformation has been a major aspect of the show.

Somizi Mhlongo from “Living the Dream with Somizi”. Mhlongo isn’t just the celebrity you see; he's also a dad trying to navigate the crazy world of showbiz while keeping his family grounded.

With his larger-than-life personality and infectious laugh, he shows us that being a dad is all about finding the balance between work, play, and lots of love.

Season 5 features daughter Bahumi and her mom Palesa Madisakwane. Picture: X