8 ‘Cool’ TV Dads Who Would Be Horrible Parents In Real Life

why the face gif


Aren’t dads the coolest? They always let you stay up for an extra half hour past your bedtime, they’ll watch silly shows with you even though your mom keeps telling both of you that they will turn your brain to mush and they’ll order pizza for dinner because the most complex thing they know how to cook is toast (and even that doesn’t always work out for the best). My dad, for one, certainly knows how cool he is – so cool, in fact, that any time my sister and I refer to him on any form of social media he requests that said reference be accompanied by the hashtag #reallycooldad. (Trust me, he’ll get a kick out of that fact that I even brought this up.)

So, since today is Father’s Day, and in honor of all fathers all around the world, this round-up of super cool TV dads will make your realize just how bad the fictional versions are when you compare them to the greatness that is the real thing.

1. Phil Dunphy

phil dunphy


Phil’s book of Phil’s-osophy might have some of the most useful nuggets of wisdom that you’ll ever learn in your whole life, and sure, he may be an attentive parent when he wants to be and it serves the Modern Family plot arc. But when you consider the fact that Phil (Ty Burrell), wasted some of his family’s money buying an alpaca because he’s “bad at making decisions under pressure,” I don’t think I could trust him with any of the real responsibilities that I imagine go along with being a good dad in real life.

2. Saturday Night Live Weekend Update’s City Correspondent Stefon 



Yes, that’s right, everyone. Stefon is, indeed, a father. You may remember that you’ll find this son of his in New York’s hottest Halloween club, along with ghosts, ghouls, and goblins (and if you don’t remember, here’s a little refresher). Now I’m sure Stefon (Bill Hader) is a loving dude, he spends most of his time at clubs that feature a fat kid on a slip and slide who’s knees look like biscuits and is ready to party, so I can’t imagine he’d do so well in the fatherhood department of the real world.

3. Ted Mosby

ted mosby 1


So you know how your dad sometimes sits you down and forces you to listen to stories about his youth that you don’t really want to listen to, but at the same time they’re ultimately pretty fun, because you learned that he used to play stickball in the street and got into absurd prank wars with his older brother. Yeah, so that’s probably what Josh Radnor‘s character, Ted, was going for on How I Met Your Mother when he was telling his kids the story about, well, how he met their mother. And yet, somehow, it just turned into a 9-season long, relatively graphic description of all of the women that Ted slept with over the years. I’m sure that’s exactly what his kids wanted to hear about.

4.  Dexter Morgan



So, Dexter is a great show, and Michael C. Hall is a great actor, and, granted, his character is much more complex than I’m making him out to be, but this one is kind of a no-brainer. Why, you ask? Because serial killers probably don’t realistically make the best fathers. I mean, I’m just speculating, though. On the bright side, he’d know how to keep the house clean, I guess…?

5. Richard Castle

richard castle


Castle, played by Nathan Fillion, is a pretty cool guy. He’s a mystery writer who shadows a New York City detective in order to get inspiration for his books. It’s a sweet deal, and his daughter is super smart and wise and all of that, but I’m pretty sure that has nothing to do with him. In fact, she parents him more than the other way around. If that were a real-life father/daughter relationship, and a teenage girl really had to help her father through his high school-esque romantic issues, that would be the worst.

6. Rufus Humphrey

rufus humphrey


Gossip Girl‘s resident Brooklynite and ex-rocker Rufus is probably that dad that’s labeled as cool, like, comparatively. You know, when the comparisons are against stuffy Upper East Side hotel magnates who hate their sons. But in real life, Rufus is a little bit of a washed-up rockstar and probably would be kind of a man child. No judgment, though.

7. Red Forman

red forman


Ah, Red. I know That 70′s Show isn’t the newest reference, but when I watched this show when I was younger I always though Mr. Forman (Kurtwood Smith) was the coolest dad ever. Only now do I realize that his sarcastic (and admittedly hilarious) cracks toward his son were actually kind of terrible, and that would not go over well in most households that don’t primarily exist inside a television.

8. Homer Simpson

Homer Simpson Running


In TV world Homer is cool because he’s funny and does stupid things. That’s basically why the class clown in elementary school is cool, right? But really, this guy is gross, and he’s a cartoon, so that would make it difficult for him to not be a horrible dad in real life as it is. You can’t get logic like that anywhere else, folks.

You can reach this post's author, Sara Steinfeld, on twitter.
Share This Post:
    • Jenny

      No no no. Omg Castle is the best Dad ever!

    • guest

      REDDDD!!!!!!!!!!! man, he’s a classic! one of the best characters on TV ever!

    • Alyssa

      How Peter Griffin is not on this list, He is probably the worst. hahaha

      • David Garrett

        That’s because he’s not cool enough for the cool dad list.

      • Alyssa

        Damn these kids and their rap music.

      • Francesca Brancato

        I made my dad a Peter Griffin card for Father’s Day lmao

      • Alyssa

        I usually give my dad a family guy themed card! hahaha

    • Bia

      I think Rufus would be the best father in it all. Unlike the other parents, he actually does his best so his kids aren’t fucking up stuff. He tries his best with Dan and, sometimes, even punishes Jenny when she needs to be punished. You could swap his name with Peter Griffin, for sure.

      • :/

        Omg ik like i think rufus would be amazing just beacuse he USED to be famous doesnt mean he would suck as a dad!

    • Alec McNamee

      I am surprised that on the paragraph on why homer is a bad father the person who wrote this didn’t mention that he strangles his son.

    • youngbasedboy27

      Homer would strangle you if you did something bad though lol

    • Reece C Palmer

      i only know 2

      • Jordan Ciel-Phantomhive

        which two?

    • Nubby Nubbington

      Walter White?!?

    • RowInside

      But.. Barney Stinson!

      • Alessandro Perini

        barney in the last episode turns out to be a great dad:)

    • Jordan Ciel-Phantomhive

      castle would be the best dad ever

    • Scott

      In the end, Dexter faked his death to protect his son from himself.
      Harrison was probably the only person in the world Dexter couldn’t bring himself to harm at all.

      • jen27

        Leaving his son with the serial murderer on the run who poisoned people whenever they became inconvenient to her…

        Yea, Dexter was a shitty dad or that last season was really really poorly written. I vote for both.

    • miss Lafolle

      I thought Hal from Malcolm would be there…

      • Hally

        yeah! it’s just unbelievable they forgot him, he’s the worse and most realistic dad ever :)

    • rafaeL

      Why isn’t Petter Griffin nor Randy Marsh on this list? UNFAIR

    • catenat35

      Randy marsh l0l

    • Víkingur Leó Sigurbjörnsson

      Stan Smith?

      • Emily Meriz

        I totally agree!!

    • keelhaulrose

      I’ll fight you on Red Foreman. My dad is just like him. He loves us deeply, but he’s not afraid to teach us a life lesson without sugar coating it. And I really think that helped us, because we learned to look at ourselves as the source of our feelings and reactions first, and that even if someone else does something we are responsible for how it effects us.

    • Gordon James Smith

      I agree with all of them accept Phil Dunphy he’s not dumb he’s just goofy and has a lot of fun but can be serious when he has to be.

    • NYCNanny

      Phil would be the best dad!!! He’s silly yet mature and loving. He’s awesome. My dad was like this growing up and all my friends were jealous he wasn’t their dad.

    • Beth

      I love TV dads in general – they always seem to give the best laughs, and they have most of the good lines. However, I have to agree with you: alot of them would make TERRIBLE fathers in real life. I mentioned TV’s treatment of dads in my most recent blog post, because I don’t think it’s a fair portrayal:


    • safsdjgffa

      what about dad from dads