24 Bad TV Dads
Don Draper, 'Mad Men'
Don Draper is a lot of things — starting and ending with the fact that he isn't even Don Draper, but a complicated fellow called Dick Whitman. He is manipulative and selfish, and although he doesn't completely dislike his kids, he sometimes appears to forget he has them. Way back in season 1, he ditched Sally's (Kiernan Shipka) birthday party (and never picked up her cake) in order to sort out some internal demons. He repeatedly cheats on his children's mother, with several plans to leave his family behind and jet off to Paris with various women — one of whom was Sally's teacher. In fact the only reason he doesn't leave with the teacher and desert his family outright is because he finds out that his wife is pregnant. Don later tells his therapist/girlfriend that baby Gene (Evan and Ryder Londo) was ''conceived in a moment of desperation and born into a mess.'' In season 4, Don hires his secretary to act as a babysitter for his three kids in Disneyland...and then marries her. In season 6, Don left the kids home alone and came back to find them in the company of a friendly burglar, then he was caught by Sally with his pants around his ankles ''comforting'' the downstairs neighbor. Don Draper/Dick Whitman, who had a pretty traumatizing childhood, is well on his way to creating long-lasting daddy issues in his own offspring. —Amanda Taylor
Peter Griffin, Family Guy
Where to begin? Peter Griffin is everything I would never want in a father. He is insensitive, violent, sexually overzealous, and insanely idiotic. He constantly makes fun of his son Chris, ignores Baby Stewie, and I'm pretty sure he just hates his teenage daughter Meg. And as if going through puberty isn't embarrassing enough, with Peter as your father, you very well might have unresolved Daddy issues for the rest of your god-awful life. —Samantha Harmon
Walter White, Breaking Bad
To say Walter White's (Bryan Cranston) job gets in the way of family time is quite the understatement. This high-school-chemistry-teacher-turned-small-time-meth-dealer-turned-cancer-survivor-turned-drug-kingpin spends most of his free time cooking his product in seedy camper vehicles with his partner and protégé, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). Missing Walt Jr.'s (RJ Mitte) birthday, accidently referring to his son as ''Jesse'' in a moment of weakness, and executing a shady drug deal during the birth of his daughter are just a few examples of Walt's patriarchal shortcomings. But give the guy a break: How would you go about securing your family's financial future if you were diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer? Deal meth to kids and gang bangers, obviously. —Jacqueline Andriakos
Dexter Morgan, Dexter
Harrison may still be a little kid, but he's already been kidnapped by a serial killer and cried in a pool of his mother's blood. And where was his father when this happened? Oh, just stalking potential targets, killing his victims, and/or dealing with whatever self-propelled chaos was consuming his time and attention at that moment. Dexter (Michael C. Hall) is one of the most inattentive fathers on TV. Sorry, cradling your sleeping child after a good night's kill or playing together with trains for five minutes before handing him off to his nanny doesn't constitute good parenting. He may love Harrison, but he loves his ''Dark Passenger'' and himself more. That doesn't even include his oft-forgotten stepchildren Astor and Cody. I can't believe that we are seriously expected to sympathize with Dexter when he gets annoyed at their acting out when he sees them once a year. Heaven forbid he drives the 234 miles from Orlando to Miami occasionally to see his son's only siblings. —Maricela Gonzalez
Byron Montgomery, Pretty Little Liars
In the beginning, Byron Montgomery (Chad Lowe) was Aria's (Lucy Hale) sweet and loving father — that was before we discovered his secret affair with one of his students. But even Byron's affair seemed quaint compared to what came next, when we found out that Byron had been with Aria's murdered bestie Alison on the night she died. Though he seemed sweet and loving after that, he's such an MIA dad now, we don't know what to think. —Samantha Highfill
Walternate/Walter Bishop, Fringe
We can all agree that Walternate suffered a great loss when his son was stolen, but his calculating revenge scenario doesn't exactly scream "great dad." And sure, Walter, the eccentric genius from our universe, deeply loves the man he raised as his son, Peter Bishop. But Peter isn't his real son. And Walter's crossing over to the other universe to help/kidnap alternate Peter set in motion the demise of both worlds. Yep, not the best move, Dad. —Abby West
Al Bundy, Married...With Children
''I hate my life. Can't eat, can't sleep, can't bury the wife in the backyard,'' so says Al Bundy of Married...with Children, a father of two who's best known for selling shoes (at minimum wage, no less) and sitting on the couch with a hand lodged in his pants. In fact, that's pretty much all Al is really good at. For Al, being a father and a husband means avoiding your family at all cost — when he's not at the bowling alley or holding NO MA'AM (National Organization of Men Against Amazonian Masterhood) meetings, he's watching sports on TV, downing beers, and acting like he couldn't care less about what's going on around him (he especially despises having sex with his own wife: ''Sorry, Peg, I didn't hear you. I was thinking of killing myself.''). Overall, Papa Bundy is as apathetic as they come, and for that, he's the worst dad I know to ever grace the tube. —Lindsay Soll
Tony Soprano, The Sopranos
With Tony Soprano, it was always impossible to separate the good from the monstrous. So it was with his performance as a father. He loved his kids and gave them a luxurious home life, but that made them accomplices, in essence, once they were old enough to figure out how Dad earned his living. The elder Soprano blamed himself (specifically, his ''putrid genes'') for Anthony Jr.'s frequent bouts of anxiety and depression. Tony saved his son from suicide but called him crazy and stupid moments later. When the spoiled, directionless AJ finally had a noble impulse (to join the Army), Tony and Carmela quickly squelched it, buying him off with a new BMW, a cushy job as a production assistant on a mob-financed movie, and a promise to invest in a nightclub business. As for daughter Meadow, seeing her dad repeatedly taken away in handcuffs influenced her decision to become a lawyer; as the series ended, she was about to marry another mobster's son and take a job with a law firm that defended Mafia clients in court. Tony dreamed of a better life for his family, one uncorrupted by ''this Thing of Ours,'' but his kids both ended up working for the Family. —Gary Susman
Mikael Mikaelson, The Originals
Oh, Mikael. If only you'd been able to control your hatred for NiKlaus—your not-so-biological son—then maybe you wouldn't have been such a horrible father. And by horrible father, I mean that this man chased his children around the world for 1,000 years in an attempt to kill Klaus, destroying entire cities along the way. Literally—it's why they call him The Destroyer. But more than anything, Mikael left his children in fear of their father, and no matter how much he might've loved some of them, his bad actions far outweighed his good ones. —Samantha Highfill
Mike Brady, The Brady Bunch
Hey, it's no fun calling out the ultimate TV dad from the ultimate family sitcom here. I mean, Marcia didn't enter him in the Father of the Year contest for nothing. For five seasons, Mike Brady was a groovy guy, hauling his family to Hawaii, snapping on spandex as Prince Charming, and freeing Cindy's doll, Kitty Karry-all, from Brady pooch Tiger's clutches. But then, suddenly, he missed Greg's graduation (and the show's final episode; credit Robert Reed's dispute with producers)! Unthinkable! Unforgivable! My goodness, that's like rain on a sunshine day. —Joshua Rich
Bradford Meade, Ugly Betty
And the next father up to bat is Bradford Meade! For conducting an affair with (then proposing to) Wilhelmina Slater, the enterprising she-zilla with designs on son Daniel's fashion-editor job — all while the mother of his children rotted in a jail cell for murdering his previous mistress...strike one! For consistently belittling Daniel after saddling him with a job far beyond his capabilities...strike two! And finally, for hiring a Brazilian hunk to surreptitiously seduce his needy daughter Alexis in the wake of her gender-reassignment surgery, for the sole purpose of getting her out of the country (and out of his three remaining hairs) — yeah, okay, Alexis did fake her own death and try to have Bradford thrown in the clink, but come on, he's her dad! — all together now...strike three! —Michael Slezak
Frank Costanza, Seinfeld
It's hard to determine exactly how much of George Costanza's dysfunction was a result of his equally (if not more so) dysfunctional parents, but it is safe to say that Frank's neurotic eccentricities were responsible for considerable trauma for his son. Festivus alone, with an aluminum pole — instead of a ''high maintenance'' Christmas tree — and the ''feats of strength'' wrestling matches at the dinner table, would send most of us to a shrink. But throw in the male bra line, fanatic TV Guide collecting, debilitating foot odor anxiety, and affinity for bopping George on the forehead, and it becomes painfully obvious that the stocky, slow-witted bald man didn't stand a fighting chance. —Mike Bruno
Anthony Cooper, Lost
John Locke finally meets his über-deadbeat dad, only to be conned out of one of his kidneys and abandoned again shortly thereafter by pops. But that's a cakewalk compared to the elder Locke pushing his son out of a window eight stories up, leaving him paralyzed from that incident. Abusive? Try murderous. —Connie Yu
J.R. Ewing, Dallas
The best fathers lead by example. So here's what big daddy J.R. taught us:
· Blackmail is a tool for the boardroom — and the bedroom.
· Husbands cheat on their wives and drive them to the bottle. (''Being married to J.R. is like a Hitchcock movie,'' Sue Ellen once said. ''You start out laughing, and then you find yourself screaming in terror.'')
· Man can survive multiple gun shots. Twice. —Mandi Bierly
Jimmy Cooper, The O.C.
In the orgasmic, sun- and booze-soaked first season of the The O.C., Jimmy Cooper (Tate Donovan) was one of the coolest dudes on Newport Beach, as well as one of TV's best dads. His awkward jokes, prolific use of the word ''kiddo,'' and selfless trips to buy ''fro-yo'' for his soon-to-be-ex-wife Julie, made him a fan favorite during the early days of the show. But all that glitters is not gold: While it's hard to underestimate the pressures of being married to a bona-fide Orange County gold digger, Jimmy's financial woes and romantic missteps eventually marked him a walking disaster. Caught up in trying to extricate himself from his own mess, Jimmy found himself lying, swindling, and even threatening the foundational Kirsten-Sandy marriage (sacrilege within the O.C. universe). Not surprisingly, his fall from grace — as well as the peripherally related departure of Luke — precipitated the show's overall demise. Great men don't always make great dads, and that's just the sad truth. —Chris Schonberger
Christopher Hayden, Gilmore Girls
More annoying than all of Gilmore Girls' quirky townies combined, Christopher was the object of my wrath for several seasons — when he was even around, that is. He popped in and out of daughter Rory's life at will — he didn't even show up to say goodbye on the series finale! — and when he did grace Stars Hollow with his smarmy presence, Rory could only count on him to do three things: break mom Lorelai's heart, pout like a baby when he didn't get his way, and start a game of whose-is-bigger with Luke, the one steady father figure in Rory's life. So what if by series' end he paid for her Yale tuition? Dude owed her at least that much. —Dawnie Walton
Gob Bluth, Arrested Development
The scotch-swilling illusionist and part-time ''outer beauty'' judge didn't even know he had a son (Steve) until three seasons in — he learned the news via an organization called, appropriately, S.A.D. (the Sons and Dads reunion project.) Since then, Gob's done everything from ducking behind desks to taking his own patented brand of ''Forget Me Now'' roofies to avoid parental responsibility. He did sort of step up to the plate at the Church and State Fair, but only because he saw Steve signing up for the army. Poor Steve. Steve who? ''Steve Holt!'' —Annie Barrett
Paul Young, Desperate Housewives
You could say Paul Young put the ''desperate'' in Desperate Housewives. He loved his son Zach very much — a trait you'd expect from just about any father. But his love bordered on the psychotic when he helped his wife — the now-deceased narrator, Mary Alice, cover her tracks after murdering their son's biological mother. Paul meets Zach's questions about his Mary Alice's suicide with an icy stare and little else. And when Zach started asking too many questions, Paul put him in a mental institution. Paul will do just about anything to protect his son. And that's his problem. —Bethonie Butler
Rowan/Eli Pope, Scandal
Talk about bad parenting: Rowan lied to Olivia, allowing her to think her mother was dead for years before revealing that her mother was actually a terrorist. Oh, and dad is the leader of a secret government organization that turns men into forever-damaged killing machines. At the end of the day, Rowan will kill anyone and do anything … and that's why Olivia had to find a way to put daddy dearest behind bars. —Samantha Highfill
Homer Simpson, The Simpsons
Sometimes, words speak louder than actions.
5. ''I feel that if a gun is good enough to protect something as important as a bar, then it's good enough to protect my family.''
4. ''Now, Marge, don't discourage the boy. Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals...except the weasel.''
3. ''Then we figured out we could just park them in front of the TV. That's how I was raised — and I turned out TV.''
2. ''Son, if you really want something in this life, you have to work for it. Now, quiet! They're about to announce the lottery numbers.''
1. ''Well, it's 1 a.m. Better go home and spend some quality time with the kids.'' —Wook Kim
Arlo Givens, Justified
Just what every lawman needs: a crooked father, who ran a protection and collection racket and was willing to shoot his own son for the business. Arlo and Raylan Givens give new meaning to complicated family issues.—Abby West
Bart Bass, Gossip Girl
This ruthless billionaire blamed his son Chuck for his mother's death and helped turn him into the aloof, twisted young man he grew up to be.—Abby West
Thatcher Grey, Grey's Anatomy
He was the quintessential absentee dad but Thatcher Grey could put a lot of the blame on his cold ex-wife. Still, he not only didn't fight for a place in Meredith's life when she was growing up but he went off and made a new family. And when his new wife suddenly died at Seattle Grace, he blamed Meredith and slapped her. Add on a downward spiral as an alcoholic who then needed a piece of Meredith's liver and you'll see why her mother issues were nearly equally matched with her father issues. —Abby West
Do not click to the final slide if you haven't watched the Game of Thrones season 5 finale and want to steer clear of a major spoiler.
Stannis Baratheon, Game of Thrones
SPOILER ALERT: This caption contains plot points from season five of Game of Thrones.
While not many of the fathers on Game of Thrones are really in the running for “Father of the Year,” Stannis Baratheon would be ranked No. 1 if the category had the word “worst” in front of it. This season, in his thirst for power and the Iron Throne, Stannis listens to the priestess Melisandre and sentences his own daughter, Shireen, to a horrific, fiery death—only to be struck down by Brienne of Tarth a short while later. Was it worth it, Stannis? (Our guess is no.) —Megan Daley