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  • Writer's pictureSusannah Powers Stengel

Zaddy's Home: Ranking TV Daddies


Spoilers For: Dad Stuff

ZADDY: a sexually appealing man, in particular an older individual, who possesses vitality or charisma

Television loves dads.

The guy who calls you in the middle of the work day just to tell you he ran into your friend at the store.

The guy who betrays you and threatens the universe with his own limited judgement.

The jokester.

The disciplinarian.

The patriarch usurped.

The hero cherished.

Well, heroes ain't perfect, and neither are dads. Here's some of the most memorable zaddies of my TV odyssey, men who break their children (villain zaddies) and some true heroes of goofiness, valor, and love (hero zaddies). Enjoy. Shout out to all of you finding new definitions of dadhood (letting go, forgiving, becoming new fathers, raising yourself). Also shout out to my dad--he's absolutely zany brilliant wonderful.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)

Dean Butler as Hank Summers

Ugh. Worst dad in TV history. DIDN'T SHOW up after their mom died. I mean seriously. Left his two amazing daughters to go be with his secretary in Spain. Burn in hell, Hank Summers.

Gilmore Girls (2000-2016)

David Sutcliffe as Christopher Hayden

Christopher Hayden is the answer to the question: "What happens if I can't get over my high school boyfriend and he continues to be a flakey piece of shit who ruins my life?"

He promises Lorelai and Rory a future check he can never cash. And that face. Why is he so cute? Scum shouldn't be so charming. That's messed up.

Invincible (2021-Present)

J.K. Simmons as Omni-Man

Get all my feelings on the emotionally toxic super-dad here.


Jupiter’s Legacy (2021)

Josh Duhamel as Sheldon Sampson/The Utopian

He's dreamy, he's honorable, he's selfish, he's obsessed with his way. He can't let go of the first idea he gets, and he refuses to bend his rigid moral code even to save his own children. This is ego unbridled--but damn if he doesn't have amazing listenings skills and a heart full of creative genius.

Rick and Morty (2013-Present)

Justin Roiland as Rick Sanchez

I hate this guy. I hate Rick Sanchez. He is driven only by his own id. Rick is my least favorite character by far, and his lines are always the most bland and sadistically predictable. Every time I watch a Council of Ricks episode, I regress creatively. And yet his zippy rejoinders ring in my ears. Shoot me. Rick would.


Friday Night Lights (2006-2011)

Kyle Chandler as (Coach) Eric Taylor

I love Coach Taylor. I love the exhausting level of earnest sacrifice he will make for every member of his team and family. He's not fake. He's not perfect. He's a white-bread papa patriarch agent of change.

Black-ish (2014-Present)

Anthony Anderson as Andre “Dre” Johnson

Yasss. Three claps for paranoid, self-conscious, loud, loving, vibrant, oft-wrong, always-ready-to grow fathers like Dre. I'm obsessed with this father's capacity to take mockery, self-denigrate, and evolve upwards.

Bob’s Burgers (2011-Present)

H. Jon Benjamin as Bob Belcher

Bob Belcher is a perfect freak of a dad--a crank, a sap, and a weirdo. He's still horny for his wife and entirely without a savings account. All he wants is to talk to food and to make special moments for his family. That's it.

Modern Family (2009-2020)

Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy

This is a textbook goofball dad and a home run. Phil's gaffes and awkward leaps of joviality (all in the name of his family's exasperated smiles) make me miss my father every single time I watch this show.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996)

James LaRue Avery as (Honorable Judge) Philip Banks

This icon will always put family first. A badass in the courtroom with high expectations and a cuddly demeanor. Full of laws, but ready to adapt them for the right extenuating circumstances. Phillip Banks has the gravitas, the sass, and the legacy-building one liners to earn him a forever-papa status in my heart.

Rest in power James LaRue Avery.

Queer Eye (2018-Present)

Antoni Porowski as Food/Wine Zaddy

Tan France as Fashion Zaddy

Karamo Brown as Culture Zaddy

Bobby Berk as Design Zaddy

Jonathan Van Ness as Grooming Zaddy

I don't care if I'm abandoning the formula. I see five proud papas one and all.

Here are five daddies who will always be here for you--who will always help you embrace the best version of yourself without shame or judgment. These are the daddies who remind you to forgive yourself. These are the daddies who ignite you to catalyze your own metamorphosis.

To which zaddy of the small screen did I not pay proper homage? Comment below and share a dad bod worth exalting!

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