30 Worst TV Dads of All Time
Whenever Father’s Day comes around, hopefully, you get your dad something nice for the special day. But you know who probably doesn’t? The children of these 30 fictional dads, whose parenting abilities are suspect at best, downright psychopathic at worst.
Fortunately, we get to safely watch the antics of these worst dads from the safety of our couches, while perhaps taking notes on what not to do in our own lives.
30. Ted Mosby
Played by: Josh Radnor and Bob Saget (voice)
TV show: How I Met Your Mother
Parent to: Penny and Luke
Years aired: 2005-2014
Why Ted Is the Worst
Maybe if you’re telling your kids how you eventually found the woman who would bear them, cut the story down to an hour rather than, say, nine seasons.
And if his long-winded narrative weren’t bad enough, Ted of the “future” (Bob Saget) tells of how Ted of the past (Josh Randnor) basically slept with anyone before finally meeting the titular mon Tracy (Cristin Milioti). Just what the kids want to know.
29. Homer Simpson
Played by: Dan Castellaneta
TV show: The Simpsons
Parent to: Bart, Lisa and Maggie
Years aired: 1990-present
Why Homer Is the Worst
Forgetting Bart’s soccer game, missing Lisa’s band recital and often referring to baby Maggie as “the other one.” Oh, and don’t forget about him choking out Bart seemingly every other week.
These are just the beginning of Homer’s sins as a dad, but somehow we’ve continued watching him foul it up royally for over 30 years — and counting.
28. Al Bundy
Played by: Ed O’Neill
TV show: Married...With Children
Parent to: Bud and Kelly
Years aired: 1987-1997
Why Al Is the Worst
We loved watching America’s favorite loser dad absolutely hate on life with wife Peg (Katey Sagal) and kids Kelly (Christina Applegate) and Bud (David Faustino). Al knew his best days were behind him and never failed to drop in conversation how he scored four touchdowns in a single high school football game.
His adult years found him not in the NFL but working in a women’s shoe store. No wonder he was a grouchy dad.
27. Peter Griffin
Played by: Seth MacFarlane
TV show: Family Guy
Parent to: Chris, Meg and Stewie
Years aired: 1999-2003, 2005-present
Why Peter Is the Worst
Peter’s ear-splitting Rhode Island laugh and often-blank stare do little to help his fatherly incompetence. As a role model for son Chris, he’s about as useful as a beanbag chair, and we’d be surprised if he even knows the name of uber genius baby Stewie.
Oh, and he once set daughter Meg’s hair on fire while she was driving because, you know, laughter.
26. Stan Smith
Played by: Seth MacFalane
TV show: American Dad
Parent to: Hayley, Steve and Roger the Alien
Years aired: 2005-present
Why Stan Is the Worst
As an animated “company” man, Stan Smith is out to protect truth, justice and the American way — well, maybe not truth considering that in addition to his human kids, he’s also secretly “daddy” to Roger, the smart-mouthed alien.
Stan ignores his brood most of the time and actually does even worse when he tries. Remember when he dragged the family into the woods to cut down a Christmas tree and nearly froze them all to death?
25. Red Forman
Played by: Kurtwood Smith
TV show: That 70s Show
Parent to: Laurie and Eric
Years aired: 1998-2006
Why Red Is the Worst
Red had anger issues, like serious anger issues. Whenever son Eric (Topher Grace) got even slightly out of line, Red came down hard, to the point of even charging Eric fines for any slight!
Whenever Eric and his pals want to have a good time, Red is the wet blanket. He’s also been known to call Eric stupid.
24. Frank Reynolds
Played by: Danny DeVito
TV show: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Parent to: Dennis and Dee
Years aired: 2005-present
Why Frank Is the Worst
Supposedly Frank has some money socked away, but yet he insists on sleeping on the couch with Charlie (Charlie Day), who might be his son. That’s gross enough, but Frank also picks at his feet with a “toe knife.”
Oh, and he once bought a Lamborghini just to piss off his “real” son Dennis (Glenn Howerton). Not exactly great for reconnecting with one’s adult offspring.
23. George Bluth Sr.
Played by: Jeffrey Tambor
TV show: Arrested Development
Parent to: George Oscar “G.O.B.”, Michael, Lindsay, Byron “Buster” and Annyong
Years aired: 2003-2006, 2013-2019
Why George Is the Worst
George said he cared about his family, but what he really meant was the family business. All of George’s decisions seem to hurt his children, even as they enrich the family fortune — and land him in prison.
He also cheats on wife Lucille like a bad habit, and oh, because son Buster was actually Lucille’s child by another man, George treats him like absolute garbage.
22. Frank Costanza
Played by: Jerry Stiller
TV show: Seinfeld
Parent to: George
Years aired: 1989-1998
Why Frank Is the Worst
We all laughed at how Frank Costanza lambasted son George (Jason Alexander) time and again, often smacking George across his bald head for acting like a dummy.
Sure, it was funny to us, but this was a textbook case of a toxic father-son relationship, and we can’t help but wonder how Frank treated George when his nerdily neurotic son was still a boy!
21. Frank Gallagher
Played by: William H. Macy
TV show: Shameless
Parent to: Fiona, Lip, Debbie, Carl, Liam, Stella, William and Ben
Years aired: 2011-2021
Why Frank Is the Worst
Frank Gallagher is a special species of despicable. Calling child protective services on his own daughter, Fiona, was just the beginning. Many dads don’t care for their sons-in-law, but only Frank hatched an aborted plan to have Fiona’s beau murdered.
No wonder Frank’s kids eventually tossed him into the Chicago River — which he survived, of course, to cause even more mayhem.
20. Roger Peralta (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Played by: Bradley Whitford
TV show: Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Parent to: Jake
Years aired: 2013-present
Why Roger Is the Worst
Airline pilot Captain Roger Peralta was a serial cheater before walking out on the family when his son Jake was only 7. Somehow, the now-adult Jake is willing to let Captain Creepy back into his life, but he does no better this time around.
Roger gets his hands into some pretty illegal stuff, and thus his planes weren’t the only things getting high.
19. Marty Byrde
Played by: Jason Bateman
TV show: Ozark
Parent to: Charlotte and Jonah
Years aired: 2017-present
Why Marty Is the Worst
Marty made some seriously poor choices, and now he has to launder mob money to even stay alive.
Thus, he fails Basic Parenting 101: Don’t get the family involved in a criminal enterprise that will only result in robbery, murder, backstabbing and being a terrible role model for your children.
18. Arlo Givens
Played by: Raymond J. Barry
TV show: Justified
Parent to: Raylan
Years aired: 2010-2015
Why Arlo Is the Worst
Sometimes, even ostensibly good men have bad dads. This was the case for Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), a U.S. Marshal with a quick trigger finger — possibly due to being the son of notorious Ozarks gangster Arlo Givens.
Arlo severely scarred Raylan growing up, challenging Raylan’s hope to keep on the straight and narrow. One story arc even involved a plot to have Arlo murder his own son!
17. Hiram Lodge
Played by: Mark Consuelos
TV show: Riverdale
Parent to: Veronica
Years aired: 2017-present
Why Hiram Is the Worst
“Riverdale” wasn’t the place your dad (good or otherwise) remembered from the Archie Comics of yore. In this modern take on the strip, the rich and selfish Hiram Lodge plots to take over the entire town — even if it means fighting his own daughter Veronica (Camila Mendes) to get what he wants.
Great lesson for your kids: Have no mercy, even with the family.
16. Christopher Hayden
Played by: David Sutcliffe
TV show: Gilmore Girls
Parent to: Rory
Years aired: 2000-2007, 2016
Why Christopher Is the Worst
Christopher and Lorelei (Lauren Graham) had a steamy affair, resulting in the birth of their daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel). Then, Christopher went off to live his own life, forcing Lorelei to raise Rory on her own.
Granted, Christopher kept trying to reconnect with Rory when she was a teenager, but then he peaces out once again to live elsewhere. Some guys never grow up.
15. Rick Sanchez
Played by: Justin Roiland
TV show: Rick and Morty
Parent to: Beth Smith, Space Beth, CHUD-Rick hybrid, Abradolf Lincler, The Ricklets, Decoy families
Years aired: 2013-present
Why Rick Is the Worst
Well, at least Rick knows he’s not pop-of-the-year material, even saying out loud on the animated show, “Holy s--t, I’m a terrible father.” Rick the mad scientist made a clone of daughter Beth so that Beth could then travel the galaxy while the clone stayed home with the kids.
What dad would rather have a clone around versus his real progeny?
14. Dan Scott
Played by: Paul Johansson
TV show: One Tree Hill
Parent to: Lucas and Nathan
Years aired: 2003-2012
Why Dan Is the Worst
Dan took bad parentage to a whole other level. He abandoned his son Lucas but kept other son Nathan around, seemingly just to mentally abuse him.
Dan’s faded dreams of baseball stardom also caused him to make the questionable decision of ditching his pregnant girlfriend to then knock up another lady he’d known from college because, ya know, reasons.
13. Dexter Morgan
Played by: Michael C. Hall
TV show: Dexter
Parent to: Astor and Cody Bennett
Years aired: 2006-2013
Why Dexter Is the Worst
Just for argument’s sake, let’s put aside the rather small fact of Dexter being a serial killer. Dexter made a stab at playing stepdad to Astor and Cody, but you probably won’t be shocked to learn that he mucked it up.
Something about murder and mayhem being the background of their new lives with a bloodthirsty stepdad.
12. Byron Montgomery
Played by: Chad Lowe
TV show: Pretty Little Liars
Parent to: Aria and Mike
Years aired: 2010-2017
Why Byron Is the Worst
What’s worse than getting caught having an affair? The answer is forcing your children to lie to their mother about the infidelity. Byron was cruel both to his wife and his mistress, which probably goes against some unwritten code for male philanderers.
The writers tried to redeem his character in later seasons, which very much divided audiences.
11. Jimmy Cooper
Played by: Tate Donovan
TV show: The OC
Parent to: Marissa and Kaitlin
Years aired: 2003-2007
Why Jimmy Is the Worst
Jimmy was a grifter, whose money-disappearing schemes certainly alienated his kids. Then, he tried to turn his daughter Marissa against her own mother in order to get back into her good graces, or something. (Spoiler: It ended badly.)
As we’ve seen on this list, it’s a tough sweepstakes, but even actor Tate Donovan is on record saying he believes Jimmy Cooper was TV’s worst ever father.
10. Ward Cameron
Played by: Charles Esten
TV show: Outer Banks
Parent to: Sarah, Rafe and Wheezie
Years aired: 2020-present
Why Ward Is the Worst
The man is a hustler, a murderer, crooked as all get out … but tells himself he knows best for daughter Sarah (Madelyn Cline), which includes trying to sabotage her romantic relationship because he thinks it reflects poorly on the family.
Ward also tosses son Rafe (Drew Starkey) out of the house because he’s not quite living up to Dad’s standards and expectations. Ouch.
9. Don Draper
Played by: Jon Hamm
TV show: Mad Men
Parent to: Sally, Bobby, Eugene
Years aired: 2007-2015
Why Don Is the Worst
Don Draper was an advertising svengali who liked to blow off steam by having numerous extramarital affairs and drinking enough alcohol to drown an elephant. His choices do unquestioned harm to his kids, especially Sally (Kiernan Shipka), as she goes through adolescence.
Don even shuffles off parenting duties onto his second wife Megan (Jessica Paré), while he engages in even more affairs — one of which Sally witnesses.
8. Archie Bunker
Played by: Carroll O'Connor
TV show: “All in the Family,” “Archie Bunker’s Place”
Parent to: Gloria
Years aired: 1971-1979, 1979-1983
Why Archie Is the Worst
Blue-collar Archie Bunker positively hated that his quiet (to be read: White) Queens neighborhood was becoming more diverse, and he was rather vocal about it.
To make matters worse, daughter Gloria (Sally Struthers) comes home with a flaming liberal named Mike (Rob Reiner), whom Archie labels “Meathead.” Welcome to the family, Mike!
7. Tony Soprano
Played by: James Gandolfini
TV show: The Sopranos
Parent to: Meadow, Anthony “A.J.” Jr.
Years aired: 1999-2007
Why Tony Is the Worst
Let’s face it, any man who chooses life in the mafia is guaranteed to invite harm upon his children, whether or not he intends to. It’s one of the reasons, perhaps, that Tony went into therapy in the first place.
And in a major parenting blunder, while taking daughter Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) on a college visit, Tony ditches her to strangle a mob enemy. Typical.
6. Eli “Rowan” Pope
Played by: Joe Morton
TV show: Scandal
Parent to: Olivia
Years aired: 2012-2018
Why Eli Is the Worst
Eli “Rowan” Pope works in the clandestine services, which makes for some rather dark days, and unsurprisingly, he wasn’t quite able to transmute love of country into love for his daughter Olivia (Kerry Washington).
Actor Joe Morton summed it up best, saying that Eli’s mantra could be said as: “There should be no family, no love, no attachment.”
5. John Dutton
Played by: Kevin Costner
TV show: Yellowstone
Parent to: Lee, Jamie, Beth, Kayce
Years aired: 2018-present
Why John Is the Worst
John Dutton is like a weird hybrid of Vito Corleone and Jessie James, and lords over his massive Yellowstone ranch in Montana, which he can (and does) almost anything to protect.
In property wars with his enemies, John’s son Lee (Dave Annable) is killed in an early episode, but that hasn’t stopped John from continuing his vile, violent schemes for three seasons and counting.
4. Bart Bass
Played by: Robert John Burke
TV show: Gossip Girl
Parent to: Chuck and Donald
Years aired: 2007-2012
Why Bart Is the Worst
Bartholomew “Bart” Bass had an appropriate name, considering you could delete one letter in his surname to describe him rather accurately. He was a toxic presence in son Chuck’s (Ed Westwick) life, constantly calling him a huge disappointment.
Bart also faked his own death but, uh, forgot to tell Chuck, who was suitably surprised when Bart showed back up one day.
3. J.R. Ewing
Played by: Larry Hagman
TV show: Dallas
Parent to: James, John III
Years aired: 1978-1991
Why J.R. Is the Worst
In the bad guy hall of fame, few, if any, top Texas oil mogul J.R. Ewing. Ewing was rich beyond rich, but always wanted more, and would do anything to get it.
Even his children hated him, so the list of suspects for “Who Shot J.R.?” was rather lengthy.
2. Walter White
Played by: Bryan Cranston
TV show: Breaking Bad
Parent to: Walter Jr., Holly
Years aired: 2008-2013
Why Walter Is the Worst
When given the news he has terminal cancer, “humble” chemistry teacher Walter White decides to make meth illegally so his family has a nestegg after he’s gone … or so he tells himself. Walter soon becomes a drug kingpin and murders dozens of people, all while pretending it’s for his family.
In the final episode, he finally admits to wife Skyler (Anna Gunn) this was a lie, saying: “I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it.”
1. Tywin Lannister
Played by: Charles Dance
TV show: Game of Thrones
Parent to: Tyrion, Cersei and Jaime
Years aired: 2011-2019
Why Tywin Is the Worst
The power-mad king Tywin Lannister absolutely hated son Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), whom he blamed for the death of his wife Joanna. Tywin never missed a chance to torture poor Tyrion — who would eventually get revenge on daddy dearest in a most unique way.
And nevermind that Tywin was so out of touch he didn’t even realize that his other children Jaime and Cersei were carrying on an incestuous relationship. Ew!