With the tragic death of Alan Thicke on December 13 at the too-young age of 69, many are also mourning the passing of Dr. Jason Seaver, the beloved character he played on '80s sitcom Growing Pains.
Jason Seaver may have been a busy professional, with his psychiatry practice running out of his home, but it was clear for anyone watching #GrowingPains — which ran on the ABC from 1985–1992 — that he was a trustworthy father who played an active role in his four kids' lives. This was a dad who may not have always been "with it" when it came to understanding the changing world his offspring were living in, but they could confide in him, and that's what made Jason Seaver one of the most admirable on-screen fathers for an entire generation. Check him out in action below.
But as amazing as he was, Jason Seaver is not the only TV dad worthy of this honor. Here are nine more to give you all the feels.
1. Joe West — The Flash (2014–Present)
Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) is one of the more dynamic dads on this list, seeing as he is one of the few single dads. He's a cop that was on scene the night Barry Allen's dad was charged with murdering Barry's mom, and ultimately took Barry in and raised him as his own. Not many guys would do that, but Joe did.
A busy law enforcement officer, Joe is often whizzing from one crime scene to the next and working with Team Flash to try to get a handle on the #metahumans wreaking havoc with his city. That said, he also makes time for his daughter Iris and son Wally; while he's not really comfortable (yet) with the relationship that's developed between Iris and Barry, he's been a constant source of support for both of them. If that's not the most fatherly behavior, I don't know what is.
2. Tony Micelli — Who's The Boss (1984–1992)
To be sure, as a 1980s dad, Tony Micelli (Tony Danza) was unconventional, but as a single dad trying to do right by his daughter (Alyssa Milano), he had to be. He knew he needed to keep a roof over her head, and being a housekeeper/nanny would fit the bill. He was athletic enough that he could keep up with the two kids of the houe, and savvy enough that he could keep Angela's (Judith Light) busy household clean and fed. He also had the sensitivity to deal with some of his little girl's issues — whether it was being called out by mean girls or just puberty in general — while also being a significant role model in the life of Angela's son (Danny Pintauro).
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3. Red Forman — That '70s Show (1998–2006)
He was brash, spoke his mind, and drove his son Eric crazy — but there was no doubt that Red Forman (Kurtwood Smith) loved his family and wanted what was best for them. Red was essentially the stereotype — or, at least, tried to be — of the dad who wanted to be the breadwinner while his wife stayed home to look after his family, but he was often confused and disdainful of Eric's more modern ways of thinking about manhood and the "battle of the sexes."
But there was no question of his devotion, ever. Eric knew that whenever he was in trouble, Red would call him a dumbass and then help him figure it all out. He supported not only his son, but got his son's friend Hyde out of an unhealthy situation and brought him in to live with the Formans. He may not have been a terribly affectionate man — except to his wife Kitty, who didn't buy the tough-guy exterior — but his family knew he cared.
4. Paul Hennessy — 8 Simple Rules (2003–2005)
To an extent, Paul Hennessy (John Ritter) was just like everyone's dad. He was protective of his girls, particularly of his oldest daughter Bridget (Kaley Cuoco), and hassled any boyfriend who wronged them. He enjoyed a close relationship with all his children, especially his son Rory. Paul was the stay-at-home parent who worked on his column for the local paper so that he would be able to be there for his kids as they grew up.
When the man behind the character died, his death was written into the show, which allowed viewers to see how a family grieved the loss of such a beloved figure, and to grieve along with them. It was the response the on-screen kids had to the death that showed us, the audience, what a powerful impact their dad had on their lives.
5. Dan Conner — Roseanne (1988–1997)
Dan (John Goodman) was a blue-collar man who was trying to help his family survive on his contractor salary and his wife #Roseanne's various job. While audiences experienced the ups and downs of the family's life, they also saw Dan teach his kids about respect, being a straight shooter and working for what you believed in.
He also didn't hesitate to show his wife he cared, also an important lesson for his kids. He stood up for Roseanne with his daughters, who frequently denigrated their mother, and wouldn't accept a lack of respect from either parent. Dan Conner was a dad who, in spite of his first impression as a bit of a schlub, always knew what his kids were up to and would tend to outsmart them.
6. Danny Tanner & Jesse Katsopolis — Full House (1987–1995)
Danny (Bob Saget) was one of those sensitive guys that, in a family of women, tried to be the male role model he felt the kids needed. He may not have always understood what his girls were going through, but he tried, and as a widower feeling nervous about raising three girls on his own, pressed his best friend Joey (Dave Coulier) and his brother-in-law Jesse (John Stamos) into service.
Danny didn't stay the only dad in the house, though; Jesse became a father to twin boys closer to the series' end, and seemed almost the antithesis of Danny's straitlaced, neat-freak style. The twins were often seen emulating their father's one-liners, and from the moment they were born, it was clear that rocker Jesse was hooked on fatherhood.
7. Philip Banks — The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air (1990–1996)
Though he's often remembered as the father-figure to Will Smith's character, rather than what he did for his kids Carlton (Alfonso Ribeiro), Ashley (Tatyana Ali) and Hilary (Karyn Parsons), Philip Banks (James Avery) is one of the cooler dads on this list. While he is obviously wealthy, he had a few problems instilling a work ethic in his children. But due to his working class upbringing, he was able to teach a range of positive lessons to his kids about the importance of honoring where you came from, keeping your commitments and hard work.
8. Steven Keaton — Family Ties (1982–1989)
As a liberal-minded ex-hippie who fathered a renowned Republican, Steven Keaton was very much the definition of a baby boomer caught in the shift between 1980s liberalism and conservatism. That said, he was a hardworking dad who somehow managed to connect well with all of his children, in spite of their differences.
He was also able to show his children, particularly as they entered relationships, that the sexes were equal. He always treated his wife with a great deal of respect, and from teaching by example his sons and daughters were able to see that they should expect no less in their relationships. Steven and Elyse Keaton (Meredith Baxter) were also able to teach their very Republican son Alex (Michael J. Fox) that it was OK to have different political views, and while they did clash on occasion about their ideologies, everyone would always walk away still feeling fine about the disagreement.
9. Cory Matthews — Girl Meets World (2014–Present)
Little Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) is all grown up. As the devoted dad on Girl Meets World, Cory now gets advise his daughter (Rowan Blanchard) about how to handle life's bumps and bruises, both at home and in the classroom. While he still enjoys having fun and being a bit childish at times, his kids (both students and biological) appreciate his guidance and humor.
In looking at Cory Matthews as a dad rather than as the boy he was in #BoyMeetsWorld, one thing is certain: While he continues to embrace the boy he was, he has improved with age.
Thanks, TV Dads — You Guys Are The Best
Whether your favorite television dad was Jason Seaver, Cory Matthews or anyone else, you've connected to these characters in a way that's important. Sometimes, these TV dads offer us advice that is more real than anything we got from our own parents, and when one dies, it's like the loss of a real family member.
#RIPAlanThicke. You were loved.
[Image via ABC]