ByAllanah Faherty, writer at
Senior staff writer | Twitter: @allanahfaherty | Email: [email protected]
Allanah Faherty

Over the years many of our favorite shows have featured strong father figures at the helm. From goofy dads, to stern dads and all that's in between, TV has shown us them all, and often they've even managed to teach us a lesson or two that our own fathers may not have.

Sadly in recent times we've lost many of the TV dads who graced our screens for so many years, but take a look through this list of TV dads who have now passed for a trip down memory lane:

1. John Ritter a.k.a. Paul Hennessy from 8 Simple Rules

John Ritter starred in many TV shows and movies over the span of his career, but it was one of his last roles where he took on the role of the wise TV dad. Ritter played the father Paul Hennessy on 8 Simple Rules, alongside Katey Sagal, Kaley Cuoco, Amy Davidson and Martin Spanjers. In the show, Paul was often a source of embarrassment and frustration to his kids (especially his two teenage daughters), but also clearly loved his family deeply and always tried to do his best by them.

Sadly, in 2003, while rehearsing for a Season 2 episode, Ritter fell ill and died of an aortic dissection shortly after. His death came just six days before his 55th birthday.

2. James Avery a.k.a. Philip Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Playing both an uncle and father over the course of six seasons in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, James Avery as Judge Philip Banks was the ultimate father figure to many. Uncle Phil's stern parenting style seemed unfair at times, but ultimately it was obvious he only had his children and nephew's best interests at heart. There were many episodes when Uncle Phil and Will shared emotional moments, especially the storylines where Will's biological father failed him, and Uncle Phil stepped up proving he was the true father figure in Will's life.

Following his time on Fresh Prince, Avery had a very busy career, all the way up to his death on New Years Eve 2013 after complications arose from open heart surgery. He was survived by his wife Barbara, and step-son Kevin.

3. Peter Boyle a.k.a. Frank Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond

For nine seasons Peter Boyle played the stubborn and crotchety Frank Barone, father of Raymond and Robert Barone in Everybody Loves Raymond. Frank was an outspoken man, stuck in his ways and permanently hungry - constantly demanding his wife Marie make him food. Despite his bad qualities, Frank was also a great handyman around the house, often fixing things for his sons, and deep down was a loving father and grandfather - often doting on his grandchildren, Ally, Geoffrey and Michael.

Everybody Loves Raymond finished its successful run in May 2005, but tragically just 19 months later, Peter Boyle died at age 71 after suffering from multiple myeloma and heart disease. Boyle was working right up until his death and had planned to appear in the film The Golden Boys, however he sadly passed before filming began.

4. Robert Reed a.k.a. Mike Brady from The Brady Bunch

Robert Reed played everyone's favorite dad/step-dad on the 1970s sitcom The Brady Bunch. Mike Brady (along with a little help from Carol) helped prove to a generation of viewers that blended families can work and be happy, and that step-parents can be just as loving as biological parents. The Brady Bunch was never a huge success at the time it was made, however thanks to syndication it remains firmly entrenched in pop culture.

Reed appeared on The Brady Bunch for all five seasons until the show's cancellation in 1974, though he did appear in many of the following Brady Bunch sequel shows and movies. In 1992 Reed died of cancer, and after he passed it was also revealed he was HIV positive which likely contributed to his death.

5. Bernie Mac from The Bernie Mac Show

Comedian Bernie Mac was known for many roles over his lifetime, including being a father with his role in The Bernie Mac Show. In the show, his character became an instant father after he takes custody of his sister's three children, Bryana, Jordan and Vanessa. Bernie Mac's tough-love tactics often had comical results for the audience, making the show a hit until it finished up in 2006.

Following the end of The Bernie Mac Show, Mac continued to work in projects such as Ocean's Thirteen, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and Old Dogs. Old Dogs was the comedian's last film appearance before his death in August 2008 from sarcoidosis complicated by pneumonia.

6. Barney Martin a.k.a. Morty Seinfeld from Seinfeld

Appearing in 24 episodes, Barney Martin played the role of Jerry Seinfeld's father, Morty, in the popular sitcom Seinfeld. Morty was a little outdated in his views, as well as a tad eccentric, but he was well known for always sticking up for his son Jerry (even if Jerry didn't particularly need his father to stick up for him) whenever he felt he had been slighted.

Barney Martin played Morty Seinfeld over the course of seven years, and following the end of the show in 1998 he had a few small roles in TV movies and series. Martin died of lung cancer in in 2005 at the age of 82.

7. Michael Landon a.k.a. Charles 'Pa' Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie

From 1974 until 1983 Michael Landon played the role of Charles Ingalls, better known as Pa. The show was based on the wildly successful 'Little House' series of books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder and depicted the wild life of a family living on a farm in the 1870s and '80s. Pa Ingalls was a hardworking and kind father to not only his four girls, but also to his three adopted children, Albert, James and Cassandra.

Landon not only acted on the show, but also wrote, produced and directed many of the 204 episodes. Following the end of the series, Landon played the main role of Jonathan Smith in the TV series Highway to Heaven from 1984 until 1989, and appeared in the 1991 TV movie Us, which he also directed. Sadly, Michael Landon passed away in July 1991 at the age of 54 following a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Sources: IMDB 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7


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