DAR TV: The 8 Greatest Black TV Fathers

By @TrueGodImmortal

When we look back at black television and the popular sitcoms, there has always been a family element in literally most of the shows. One of the most vital pieces of this family dynamic in television is the father. The father is sometimes missing from TV, but in the instances that the father is around, their character becomes iconic in its own right. With that being said, we wanted to take a look at the 8 greatest TV dads from black television shows. Some of the fathers who just missed the list include Frank Mitchell (who, depending on your perspective was horrible or great, but his box fade was always a topic of discussion), Lester Jenkins, Bernie Mac (only because he was actually Uncle Bernie), and various others. While those choices were definitely viable, these top 8 choices are just more iconic. Let's take a look at the 8 greatest black TV dads.

8. George Jefferson
(The Jeffersons)

-In all fairness, though George Jefferson was a bit of an asshole, it was clear that as a father, he was a good influence in essence on his son Lionel. His son Lionel wasn't the most ambitious, but despite that, he had tough love and honesty in his father. Most people don't look at George Jefferson as a top tier TV dad, but the truth is, he deserved to be mentioned in some way. He was an independent man who treated his wife very well (despite their arguments) and helped set an example for Lionel in terms of his own future, and Lionel never seemed like an unhappy son (mostly), which could only be attributed to good (fictional) parenting.

7. Carl Winslow
(Family Matters)

-I find it tough to put Carl Winslow on any list honestly, but the truth of the matter is, he was a good TV dad even with the conflict of interest that came with his profession. As one of those alleged "good police officers" during a show that existed through the police brutality incidents and LA riots, it was interesting to see the portrayal of a black police officer in suburban Chicago. While Carl Winslow was definitely corny in general, he was also one of the more genuine fathers in sitcom history. He wasn't necessarily the best to Steve Urkel, but if I had an annoying teen showing up and ruining my house, perhaps I wouldn't be so nice either. Still, Carl was great to his children, and his advice to his son Eddie and the small life lessons he passed down to his daughter Laura actually were somewhat poignant. Carl Winslow wasn't the greatest, but he was definitely a top tier TV dad.

6. Fred G. Sanford
(Sanford And Son)

-I look at Fred Sanford as more of a great character than just a great TV father, but he has to make the list. He stayed by the side of his son Lamont after the loss of his wife Elizabeth and despite living in a junkyard, his relationship with his son was the biggest focal point of the show. Fred Sanford was far from a perfect father and that's what makes his one of the best TV dads. He was wrong a lot, he was sneaky in his own way, and he had his moments, but the fact that his son Lamont was mostly level headed through the show was more of a sign that he was raised well by his father. With his mannerisms, his choice of words, and his entire personality was endearing to viewers and I think the most underrated aspect of Fred Sanford is his fatherhood.

5. Julius Rock
(Everybody Hates Chris)

-If this was a list of the best budgeting TV dads, there's no doubt in my mind that Julius would easily take the no. 1 spot. For someone who counted every single penny spent and every single penny that was wasted, Julius was probably the most concise TV dad of the 2000s. He was frugal sure, but he was also a great father to the three children on the show and Terry Crews took that role and owned it. As Julius, he provided great lessons and wisdom for his kids, but mostly for Chris, and he was a hard working husband as well. Considering the character was based on Chris Rock's real father and not a fictional character, it makes the character even more relatable and hilarious, as I don't doubt in real life that a father was frugal and mindful of budgeting. Julius is one of my personal favorite TV dads.

4. Michael Kyle
(My Wife And Kids)

-One of the most underrated black sitcoms of all time remains My Wife And Kids, and to be honest, I think the most underrated character on this list is Michael Kyle. Hard working, hilarious, and tough on his kids when they needed it, Michael Kyle was one of those rare TV dads that encompassed everything a fatherly television character should be. While being a solid husband to his wife, Michael Kyle took time to be there for his children and his interactions with Junior are some of the best on the entire show. Michael Kyle is not only one of the best TV dads, he's easily the most underrated.

3. Cliff Huxtable
(The Cosby Show) 

-Of course, there is no way we can talk TV dads without talking the TV dad who became "America's Dad". I tried to identify with the style of parenting that Cliff Huxtable employed, but the circumstances of the family weren't entirely relatable to me. What makes Cliff such a good TV dad is because despite my inability to identify with the family in general, I still respected the character and his fatherhood from a story standpoint. Bill Cosby the man isn't someone I know or can speak of, but the character he portrayed on the show is one of the most iconic characters in television history. Overall, he provided laughs and tough love for his children, along with regular advice for Denise and Theo, and it's impossible to talk TV dads without mentioning Heathcliff Huxtable. It's that simple.

2. Philip Banks
(Fresh Prince Of Bel Air)

-Of course, we have to remember and show love to Uncle Phil. Rest in peace to James Avery, as his portrayal of Uncle Phil remains one of the best portrayals in television history. Uncle Phil was wealthy, a hard worker, but also aware and focused. He was shown to be someone who was in the middle, able to relate to those in lesser conditions some, but far removed from that existence personally. With that, he passed down lessons and wisdom (like all TV dads) to his children Ashley, Hilary, and Carlton, but his most poignant interactions came from being around his nephew Will. The chemistry on screen between Will and Uncle Phil earns him the second spot on this list and truth be told, I think Uncle Phil might be the most pivotal fatherly character in black sitcom history. He represented a very upper class black father that still could remain down to earth and lead his family, which provided better representation and imagery. Uncle Phil is without a doubt deserving of the no. 2 spot, and if you personally put him at no. 1, I wouldn't be mad at that at all.

1. James Evans Sr.
(Good Times)

-While many TV fathers boarded on the more corny side, James Evans was the real deal. He was brash, aggressive, and raw, but most of all, he loved his family. He looked out for his sons J.J. and Michael through the hard times, tried to provide his daughter Thelma with fatherly advice, all the while being a hard working and loving husband to his wife, Florida. James was not perfect and he wasn't rich or even close to wealthy, which makes him more relatable to many of us, and is a big reason why he takes the no. 1 spot on my list. The most interesting part about this character to me is the way it was killed off the show, not for the fact that he was killed off the show, but the behind the scenes reason why. Apparently, Good Times had no black writers on the show and John Amos, the actor behind James Evans, was extremely authentic and let it be known that some of the ideas for the show were not realistic in the black community. Frustrated with the actor not just going with the script, Good Times killed off his character and truth be told, the show was never the same again. James Evans was the lifeline of the show and his departure left a big hole in the show. From his aggression to his concern and caring for his kids to the real life authenticity that brought the character to an end, James Evans is the best TV dad and easily one of the greatest black sitcom characters ever without question. Simple as that.



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