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The 15 Best Dad Moments on TV

TV fathers usually get a nasty rap. They’re steadily diminished to bumbling idiots for comedian reduction on sitcoms or introduced as chilly disciplinarians who antagonize their kids on status dramas. And whereas each of these tropes might be entertaining, the very best depictions of fatherhood on tv are usually extra nuanced than that. Objectively unhealthy guys like Tony Soprano or Don Draper can have some heartwarming, redeeming moments with their youngsters. Standoffish dads like Jack Arnold can open up a bit and allow us to in. And sure, even the goofy dumb guys like Homer Simpson can provide up a little bit of fatherly recommendation.

Of course, not each father on TV is worthy of redemption, and a number of the biggest moments are unhappy or just beautifully acted confrontations between kids and their shitty, poisonous dads. Fatherhood is complicated, and to have a good time Father’s Day this 12 months, we’re revisiting our favourite moments from a few of TV’s most memorable patriarchs — the humorous ones, the heartfelt ones and every little thing in between.

The Wonder Years, “My Father’s Office” (Season 1, Episode 3)

Kevin Arnold’s father Jack is established fairly early on within the sequence as a stern man to be feared, however The Wonder Years’ “My Father’s Office” provides some new layers to him. After noting that his dad is all the time in a horrible temper when he comes dwelling from work, Kevin spends a day on the workplace with him, the place he sees simply how soul-crushing and demanding his job is. Jack admits to him that rising up he needed to be a sea captain, and we see a brand new, extra tender facet of him. “My dad had something finer in him than S-14’s and distribution reports,” grownup Kevin narrates. “I’ll never forget how I felt at that moment. I felt that my father was a great man.” The episode ends with the 2 of them gazing on the evening sky collectively, as Kevin’s voiceover tells us, “But suddenly I realized I wasn’t afraid of him in quite the same way anymore. The funny thing is, I felt like I lost something.” — Bonnie Stiernberg, Senior Editor

Friday Night Lights, “Leave No One Behind” (Season 2, Episode 14)

Coach Taylor is among the many most necessary TV dads of all time due to his sensible portrayal of what it means to be not solely an precise father but in addition a father determine. It’s a notion I’m inclined to roll my eyes at, particularly when it’s utilized to coaches and sports activities as a result of that all the time appears to ivolve extra dopey tough-guy shit than I can deal with, nevertheless it’s carried out on Friday Night Lights with a degree of complexity and depth that’s refreshing, to say the least. And I feel one of many greatest causes the present pulled it off so effectively is that, as head soccer coach in a football-crazed Texas city, Coach Taylor is a Very Important Person with numerous macho bonafides, however at dwelling, the place he lives together with his badass spouse Tammy, his daughter Julie and, importantly, no different dudes by any means, he’s constantly being knocked down a peg, compelled to hear and be taught and adapt to individuals who don’t actually give a lot of a shit about soccer — and he clearly comes out higher for it. In this well-known scene, Coach Taylor angrily tosses a drunk Matt Saracen right into a bathe and scolds him for flaking on his obligations and usually appearing out. Saracen, whose father is out of the image and who’s not too long ago been dumped by the Coach’s daughter, breaks down and cries about all of the individuals who’ve left him, in the end asking, “What’s wrong with me?” After a number of moments of silence, Coach Taylor says, merely, “There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s nothing wrong with you at all.” On paper, this doesn’t precisely learn like a hard-hitting change. But in these moments of silence, you see a person, a father, being reminded to see issues from one other particular person’s perspective. It’s simply empathy. It’s not rocket science. But for a soccer coach in small-town Texas, it could as effectively be. And, who am I kidding? For all males all over the place, fathers or not. — Mike Conklin, Executive Editor

The O.C., “The Dearly Beloved” (Season 2, Episode 24)

Sandy Cohen proves himself a commendable father from the outset of The O.C., and a few might level to these episodes — when he accepts wrong-side-of-the-tracks Ryan into his bougie household — as holding the quintessential paternal moments. They could be mistaken. While the season two finale is remembered nearly completely for the Imogen Heap-soundtracked shootout, it additionally holds the turning level when Sandy strikes past quips about bagels, “the Vegas” and “yogalates” and exhibits he’s price all of the reward viewers heaped on him through the years. In this one episode, he helps his spouse Kirsten start remedy for alcoholism, treats his son Seth like an grownup when discussing the difficulty, and holds your complete household (together with prolonged relations) collectively throughout the funeral for his father-in-law, delivering a transferring speech that honors a person he overtly despises the primary two seasons. — Alex Lauer, Senior Editor

Ramy, “Frank in the Future” (Season 2, Episode 8)

Amr Waked as Farouk Hassan on Ramy (Photo courtesy of Hulu)

Similar in tone and format to FleabagAtlanta or Louie (are we nonetheless allowed to speak about Louie?), Ramy Youssef’s loosely autobiographical Hulu present treads a fragile stability between comedy, angst, cynicism and melodrama. And as is the case with these exhibits, the very best notes are inclined to arrive when Youssef’s writing is at its most susceptible and honest. The most memorable scene of the present’s not too long ago launched sophomore season sees Ramy having a heart-to-heart together with his father, Farouk, on the eve of the previous’s marriage ceremony evening. Farouk describes his blended emotions about his son leaving his roost to start out a household of his personal. To be a father, he laments, is to all the time reside “in the future”: planning, making ready, agonizing and usually shouldering a burden effectively past his personal in order that his household — and particularly his oldest son — can reside within the current. It is among the most poignant and affective descriptions of parental nervousness I’ve seen on display screen. — Walker Loetscher, Editor-in-chief

Catastrophe, “Episode 4” (Season 2, Episode 4)

The premise for this comedy, which ran for 4 seasons on the UK’s Channel 4, and is out there on Amazon within the States, is “might as well” parenthood. American Rob Norris (Rob Delaney) will get Irishwoman Sharon Morris (Sharon Horgan) pregnant, after assembly her on a enterprise journey in London, the place they’ve intercourse each 15 minutes for a full week. When she calls him months later — his telephone lights up with “Sharon London Sex” — to ship the information, the 2 30-somethings spontaneously determine to commit to one another and the child. As the years put on on (and one other child comes alongside), their relationship fireworks and fizzles, often on account of having to maintain their youngsters. Rob’s crass-casual strategy to fatherhood drives the humor of the present: this pillow-talk scene is the morning of his third anniversary with Sharon, but in addition (after all) occurs to be his son’s birthday. He tries to speak down a boner earlier than his child walks into the bed room. — Tanner Garrity, Associate Editor

Mad Men, “A Day’s Work” (Season 7, Episode 2)

Don Draper just isn’t an amazing dad. He’s steadily absent, he drinks an excessive amount of, and he retains his youngsters — like everybody else in his life — at an arm’s size. His relationship together with his daughter Sally is almost destroyed in season six when she catches him having intercourse together with his married neighbor Sylvia, and early on in season 7 we discover out she’s nonetheless mad about that. When she catches him in one more lie — this time about the truth that he’s been put on depart by SC&P — her anger boils over. Eventually they wind up at a diner, and Don explains himself and opens up a bit. By the time he drops her off in school, it appears to be water underneath the bridge: as she’s getting out of the automotive, Sally casually says, “Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you.” The look on Don’s face makes for among the finest moments of the present; he’s surprised and touched, and as The Zombies’ “This Will Be Our Year” performs, it’s clear there’s hope for him but. — Bonnie Stiernberg, Senior Editor

The Simpsons, “New Kid on the Block (Season 4, Episode 8)

The factor with Homer is he tries. And fails. And will get lazy, however then he tries once more. He needs to assist his youngsters. And typically his recommendation is neither mistaken nor proper, simply trustworthy in a approach that’s uncommon between fathers and youngsters (see: “You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.”) The finest instance of this arrives on this season 4 — the very best Simpsons season — standout, the place Bart develops a crush on his neighbor however she’s into native bully Jimbo. He seeks out Grandpa, who’s nugatory; Homer, in the meantime, begins off good-hearted however fumbling (“Son, a woman is a lot like … a refrigerator. They’re about six feet tall, three-hundred pounds … they make ice”) earlier than getting actual. And actual drunk. And actual trustworthy. At the very least, Bart will always remember his dad’s phrases — and will select to keep away from alcohol. — Kirk Miller, Managing Editor

BoJack Horseman, “Free Churro” (Season 5, Episode 6)

This episode, whereas among the finest within the sequence, is admittedly extra about BoJack’s mom than his father. However, the episode does open with a flashback by which BoJack’s verbally abusive failed author of a father picks up his son late from soccer observe, a process he equates with “being your mother.” He then goes on to ship an roughly two-minute, uninterrupted monologue by which he refers to BoJack’s mom as “the black hole that birthed you,” angrily reveals she was unable to select BoJack up from soccer observe herself as a result of she spent the afternoon locked in her bed room weeping “for the attention,” and blames BoJack for “making that thin, brittle wisp of a woman” his personal mom. He additionally throws in some homophobia for good measure. It’s a darkish and unflattering picture of fatherhood, however fatherhood isn’t all the time all dad jokes and bonding. Sometimes having a father is painful and exhausting. This scene honors that with honesty and humor. — Kayla Kibbe, Associate Editor

Seinfeld, “The Strike” (Season 9, Episode 10)

Most sitcom dads are cuddly doofuses — well-meaning, beer-swilling everymen who love their household, even when they don’t know the way to present it. Homer Simpson needs to crack open a chilly one with the boys; Phil Dunphy simply needs everybody to have enjoyable. Seinfeld’s Frank Costanza, although, has loads of issues with you individuals and now you’re going to listen to about it. The father of George (who is probably tv’s ur-Large Adult Son), Frank dominates each episode that he’s in, none extra so than “The Strike.” In response to what he thinks is the gross commercialization of the vacations, Frank creates Festivus, an annual offensive in opposition to all issues Yule. Played by the late Jerry Stiller, Frank unveils the particulars of his hilarious madness — aluminum poles, feats of power, airings of grievances — with the brashness of a Mike Francesa caller. Frank may not be the sort of dad you need to play catch with, however by way of his relationship with George, he offers dwelling proof which you can’t escape your loved ones, that some a part of you’ll all the time be outlined by the place and who you come from. Whether it’s a metaphor for the endurance of heritage or an Oedipal curse, till you pin your dad, Festivus won’t ever finish. — Jack Tien-Dana, Editorial Assistant

The Sopranos, “From Where to Eternity” (Season 2, Episode 9)

In addition to being the daddy of his crime household, Tony Soprano can also be the daddy of two kids, daughter Meadow and son AJ. Whether it’s whereas serving as a criminal offense boss or a dad, Tony tends to lose his mood and dole out punishment — typically bodily, typically emotional and typically each. In this scene, Tony involves his son’s room with a pizza in hand after flying off the deal with at him throughout dinner. Upset at shedding management, Tony tells AJ how a lot of himself he sees within the teenage boy and apologizes. “I couldn’t ask for a better son, AJ,” Tony says. “I mean that.” He is probably not the very best dad, however at the very least he’s honest and brings pizza. — Evan Bleier, Senior Editor

Twin Peaks, “Episode 8” (Season 2, Episode 1)

Good fathers are briefly provide within the unusual city of Twin Peaks, WA. Benjamin Horne is a philandering previous creep bent on promoting out his city to Scandinavians, James Hurley has no father onscreen, and the much less stated about Leland Palmer, the higher. One shining second of fine fatherhood got here at a pleasant sitdown within the Double R diner between Bobby Briggs and his father, Major Briggs. Throughout the present, the connection between the 2 is fairly rocky; rebellious Bobby has no actual optimistic interactions together with his straight-laced navy father. The solely parenting he actually offers Bobby is psychoanalysis about his rebellious nature, to which Bobby reacts fairly violently. All it took was a visit to the present’s otherworld for Major Briggs to have a chat with Bobby, and provides one of the fantastic and understanding speeches in any tv present. Major Briggs tells Bobby of a imaginative and prescient he had the evening earlier than of embracing one another, clearly seeing Bobby would have a way forward for pure concord and peace in spite of everything of his teenage ache. He trusts Bobby will be capable of reside an excellent life, and leaves him with a handshake, a gesture suggesting a profound degree of respect and sweetness. — John Hill, Social Media Manager

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, “Papa’s Got A Brand New Excuse” (Season 4, Episode 24)

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The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is finest identified for its comedy and goofy issues like “The Carlton Dance,” nevertheless it took a severe flip with this memorable season 4 episode that sees Will’s deadbeat dad making an attempt to reenter his life after 14 years. His aunt and uncle doubt his intentions, however Will will get sucked in by his allure till, predictably, he makes some excuse to bail but once more. It all involves a head with this emotional scene, the place a harm and offended Will breaks down, and we get a glimpse of why Will Smith would go on to grow to be a two-time Oscar nominee. He’s comforted by Uncle Phil, the closest factor he has to a loving father determine, and we will all discover some solace in the truth that whereas his dad might not care about him, he’s acquired loads of different individuals who do. — Bonnie Stiernberg, Senior Editor

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, “The Gang Gives Frank An Intervention” (Season 5, Episode 4)

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In what’s arguably among the finest episodes of this sequence, Paddy’s Pub patriarch Frank Reynolds pushes his depravity to the restrict when he brings The Gang to a funeral with the intention to sleep together with his not too long ago widowed sister-in-law, Donna. Frank’s devious plot introduces Dennis and Dee’s “garbage pail cousin” Gail the Snail, whose incessant slobbering pushes his kids over the sting. To rid themselves of The Snail once-and-for-all, The Gang hires a counselor to carry an armed intervention to maintain Frank from sleeping with Donna. The takeaway is that typically the issues we do to “help” our fathers are literally egocentric ploys to make their presence in our lives rather less cumbersome. Or possibly it’s that for those who pour boxed wine right into a used soda can, your ingesting drawback will look so much much less conspicuous. — Mike Falco, Art Director

Master of None, “Parents” (Season 1, Episode 2)

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Master of None‘s Parents” episode has a simple concept: Dev and Brian, both first generation, take their immigrant parents out for dinner to try and show their gratitude for all the sacrifices they’ve made. What pushes it from good to nice, nonetheless, is the truth that Aziz Ansari solid his real-life dad and mom to play his character’s dad and mom on the present. The episode appears like a love letter to them — particularly his father — and after it aired, he posted to Instagram about the way it had an influence on his real-life relationship with them. “I’ve been overwhelmed by the response to the Parents episode of our show,” he wrote. “What’s strange is doing that episode and working with my parents has increased the quality of my relationship to my parents IN MY REAL LIFE. In reality, I haven’t always had the best, most open relationship with my parents because we are weirdly closed off emotionally sometimes. But we are getting better.” — Bonnie Stiernberg, Senior Editor

Succession, “This Is Not for Tears” (Season 2, Episode 10)

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Succession is, on its floor, about which member of the family will succeed the getting old Logan Roy as CEO of the Waystar Royco media empire, nevertheless it’s additionally in the end about three grownup kids vying for the love of their gruff, merciless father. No one tries tougher than Kendall, who even goes as far as to rap, “Bro, don’t get it twisted, I’ve been through hell/But since I stan Dad, I’m alive and well.” Of course, he’s thanked with a knife in his again, as Logan selects him because the household’s “blood sacrifice” to take the autumn for a serious scandal. Logan watches his press convention expectantly, and when Kendall — who has lastly had sufficient — throws him underneath the bus as a substitute, we count on him to react to the betrayal with one in every of his huge tantrums. (This is, in spite of everything, the man chargeable for “Boar on the Floor.”) Instead, he’s quiet, taking all of it in as his son primarily commits patricide. Finally, we see the tiniest smile creep throughout his face. He’s mad, however he’s impressed. Turns out all Kendall wanted to do to earn his respect was grow to be simply as ruthless as he’s. — Bonnie Stiernberg, Senior Editor

Game of Thrones, “Valar Dohaeris” (Season 3, Episode 1)

The idea of patriarchy performs an outsize function within the worldbuilding of Game of Thrones — in a feudal society the place jockeying for energy is the secret and familial lineage is the clearest avenue to energy, one may argue that patriarchy is among the most necessary parts of the titular Game. Thus it ought to come as no shock that the present’s narrative (in addition to the narrative of the books the present was largely primarily based on) is awful with all method of dads that loom giant over the proceedings. There are loopy useless dads (The Mad King Aerys Targaryen), good-looking secret dads (Jaime Lannister), duplicitous weasely stepdads (Peter Baelish, aka “Littlefinger”), even actually good dads who end up later on to not have been dads all alongside (Ned Stark, within the case of Jon Snow). Long story quick, dads all over the place whose relationships to their kids are steadily a driving power within the story with far-reaching penalties. None of those dads, nonetheless, solid fairly the shadow of Lannister patriarch Tywin, a formidable determine each actually and figuratively whose inflexible adherence to ideas like honor, heritage and custom are the bedrock of his character. Thus his relationship with son Tyrion proves arguably essentially the most attention-grabbing mother or father/youngster dynamic of your complete present, as Tywin’s dogmatic rules have primarily painted him right into a nook the place he should tolerate a son who he blames for his spouse’s demise (blaming a baby for the demise of his personal mom throughout childbirth is a complete ‘nother level of shit parenting, but GOT gonna GOT) and whom he patently wishes had died instead. And while this relationship plays out to to fantastic patricidal conclusion in the tenth episode of the show’s fourth season (er, spoiler alert), it’s a full two seasons earlier that one will get the very best view of it through one of the scathing monologues within the historical past of the present (ranked #2 in our listing of the present’s 101 finest insults). Vicious, merciless and unrelenting although it could be, Tywin’s tirade truly serves as a unusually teachable second for Tyrion, who in the end comes to comprehend that although he might carry the Lannister title and be in concept entitled to a correct seat on the desk, he won’t ever get that seat through the normal avenues and thus should exit and safe it for himself. —Danny Agnew, Creative Director

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