George Banks, Father of the Bride, 1991
George Banks' fierce love for his daughter drives him to antics that are funny, embarrassing, and almost unbearably sweet. This manic dad goes wild on his kid's wedding day, throwing hot dog tirades at the grocery store and placing misdirected anger at her husband-to-be. He is the gold standard for wedding-aisle partners.
Burt Hummel, Glee, 2009-present
In an act proving family comes first, Burt curses out his live-in girlfriend's son Finn for calling his son Kurt "faggy", exclaiming he "can't have this kind of poison under his roof." He does this knowing he could lose Finn's mom. But Burt knows that family comes first, and his love and commitment to Kurt seems to get stronger when Kurt boldly steps out of the closet.
Carlisle Cullen, The Twilight Series, 2009-present
As patriarch of the stunningly beautiful Cullen vampire clan, adoptive dad Carlisle has led his family to respect humanity by partaking in a vegetarian (non blood) diet. He encourages his kids to do the right thing and find their own brand of happiness -- even when that includes falling in love with a human. And like any good dad, he recognizes his children's strengths: "I look at my... son. His strength, his goodness, the brightness that shines out of him -- and it only fuels that hope, that faith, more than ever."
Mike Brady, The Brady Bunch, 1968-1974
Laugh at Mike Brady all you want. Mock his nerdy, out-of-touch uncoolness, his oh-so-not groovy hair do, and the lack of reality in his 1970's sitcom. But don't overlook the things this man did to smooth over the rough patches of his blended family. Nobody really knows what happened to Marsha, Jan and Cindy's biological father, but it doesn't matter -- Mike is a loving father to them all.
Ward Cleaver, Leave it to Beaver, 1957-1963
Ward Cleaver's (realistic) parental weaknesses make him an admirable father. He is competitive with his co-workers, sometimes has unrealistically high expectations for Beaver and Wally, and his guidance doesn't always make a successful impact. But he loves his boys dearly while still letting them to grow on their own.
Clark Griswold, National Lampoon's Vacation, 1983
Anyone who has been dragged through a regimented family vacation under the direction of a planning-hungry father will appreciate Chevy Chase in this star-packed comedy. Though things don't always go as planned, Clark stays positive -- and incredibly amusing. (See also: European and Christmas vacations.)
Robin Williams, Mrs. Doubtfire, 1994
Okay, so Daniel Hillard crossed a few lines when trying to get joint custody of his kids, but the determination and creativity he used to get to them makes him a great dad. Yes, the cross-dressing nanny premise is ridiculous. But when it comes to the great lengths some dads will go to to be with their kids, Mrs. Doubtfire hits the mark.
Michael Bluth, Arrested Development, 2003-2006
Michael Bluth juggles the dysfunctional antics of his family while still being a strong single dad to son George Michael. His good nature stands in stark contrast to his family's materialism, selfishness and drunkenness. Michael Bluth is at his most charming when he perks up for father/son activities.
Ben Stone, Knocked Up, 2007
And the Most Improved Dad Award goes to... Ben Stone. At the beginning of Knocked Up, it is terrifying to think of this dumb-yet-loveable dude as a dad. But by the end, the lovable father-to-be can recite well-researched pregnancy facts, stand up for his girlfriend in the delivery room and play house with his nieces.
King Triton, The Little Mermaid, 1989
Lots of dads spend wedding days giving their daughters away, but "away" usually means to another home, or another state. When King Triton says goodbye to Ariel in The Little Mermaid, he gives her away to an entirely different species, losing contact with her forever. Take that, George Banks.
Phillip Banks, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, 1990-1996
It must be exasperating to be Phillip Banks. He works his tail off to provide for the family, plays babysitter to a mischievous nephew and takes cracks from the butler. Poor Uncle Phil never gives up trying to be a good, honest dad. And when he gets mad, he just makes the audience laugh.
Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962
The most striking thing about Atticus Finch as a father is the huge respect with which he treated his children, Scout and Jem. He embodies the morality he preaches to his kids when defending Tim Robinson in the courtroom. Atticus' excellent parenting skills are evidenced in the respect Scout and Jem have for him -- he's their hero.
Andre, My Father the Hero, 1994
Long-lost father Andre goes years without contacting daughter Nicole (a 14-year-old Katherine Heigl). But once the two are reunited for a vacation in the Bahamas, Andre proves that he'll do anything to get cool-dad points. Though Nicole starts out bitter about being forced to spend father-daughter time with a guy she hardly knows, Andre eventually wins her -- and the audience -- over.
Antonio Ricci, The Bicycle Thief, 1948
Antonio delivers one of cinema's most heart-wrenching father performances in Vittorio De Sica's The Bicycle Thief. The strong bond between the down-and-out father and son carries the movie, even through the bleak ending.
Johnny Nolan, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1943
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn follows the tragedy of a likeable man crippled by alcoholism. He's not the most admirable dad, but the tale of his doomed family could break the stoniest heart.
Sam Dawson, I Am Sam, 2001
Mentally retarded Sam Dawson's love for his daughter Lucy is the most important thing he has. Even as young Lucy surpasses her father's mental capabilities, Sam devotes himself to winning custody of her. He breaks down in court after opposing counsel declares he's an unfit father, but his strength shines through when helping his lawyer Rita with her own family drama.
Andy Taylor, The Andy Griffith Show, 1965-1968
Andy Taylor fuels laughs as an excitable but somewhat harsh dad. His son Opie is always in need of Taylor's solid, fatherly advice. It's refreshing to return to the country bumpkin's town of Mayberry, where there is one stoplight and it was always time to go fishing.
Cliff Huxtable, The Cosby Show, 1984-1992
While he doesn't have a cape (just lots of awesome sweaters), Cliff Huxtable is a superdad. This successful doctor always shares meals with his five children and wife, treats all of their issues with respect and keeps everyone (including all of TV land) laughing. Every kid wanted Dr. Huxtable to be their dad -- and every parent hoped they were raising their kids as well as he was.
Charles "Pa" Ingalls, Little House on the Prairie, 1932-1943
Laura Ingalls' nemesis Nellie Oleson's father once called Charles Ingalls "the richest man in Walnut Grove." Although the Ingalls weren't wealthy, Pa was beloved by daughters Laura and Mary for being understanding and caring -- while still being a rugged wilderness man. He built houses, dug wells, manned the land, and was an all around tough guy, without hardening his heart to his female-charged family. And we're pretty sure Ma never had to remind him to take out the garbage.
Cameron and Mitchell, Modern Family, 2009- present
With more gay couples adopting, it's refreshing to see Cameron and Mitchell raising an adopted Vietnamese baby on the small screen. The things they face -- like when Lily calls the pediatrician "mommy" -- are unique to gay couples. This breakthrough portrayal celebrates two men trying to be the best fathers they can be.
Christopher Gardner, The Pursuit of Happyness, 2006
Rich with against-the-odds circumstances, heart warming father-son moments, and American dream achievement, The Pursuit of Happyness is an incredible (true) story on all fronts. The fact that Will and Jaden Smith are father and son on and off the screen makes the movie just a bit more touching.
Mr. Parker, A Christmas Story, 1983
For most of A Christmas Story, Mr. Parker seems completely insane. Still, he has his tender moments. After all, he lets trouble-prone Ralphie have a BB gun.
The Man, The Road, 2006
In an Apocalyptic portrayal of a father-son journey across a merciless, civilization-less country in search of warmth and "good people", the Man in The Road embodies the type of self-sacrifice and devotion usually attributed to mothers.