TV's most dysfunctional dads

Al Bundy ... Married with Children.
Al Bundy ... Married with Children. 

They′re a funny lot, dads. Even back in the Bible days they were doing crazy things like trying to sacrifice their children and duelling their sons to the death. But these days fathers are completely different, right?

Well, not exactly. The modern dad has evolved into a far more bizarre and often less well-functioning creature than those in the past. But it’s not for want of trying – it’s just that it can be hard to juggle serial killing, self-loathing, drinking and narcissism with fatherhood. Here′s a list of 10 dads who′ve tried to have it all ...

Homer Simpson, The Simpsons
The daddy of all daddies, Homer has a love/hate/hate/hate relationship with his kids (Bart especially, as this clip shows). But he’s always there for them in ample body, if not spirit. A role model for the likes of Family Guy′s Peter Griffin, Homer was the first dad to put the ‘fun’ into dysfunction.

Al Bundy, Married with Children
Was Al the world′s happiest shoe salesman? I’m pretty sure he wasn’t. Perhaps, however, he could be comforted by knowing that he was at least the most famous. Happiness and love weren’t ever very high on Al’s list of life achievements, but this clip shows there were at least some things that had a special place in his heart.

Dexter Morgan, Dexter
There are a few professions that aren′t ideally suited to being a parent. Running a meth lab isn’t great, and I imagine that being an international hitman would make it hard to be home for dinner every night. But being an emotionally detached serial killer would probably be the worst role any parent could have. Watching Dexter trying to make it work, however, is half the fun.

Tony Soprano Snr, The Sopranos
Speaking of hit-men ... What can you say about a show in which the most sympathetic character is a psychopathic murderer whose idea of parenting is constant, escalating competition? Perhaps just that it makes a frighteningly good show. This clip is pure gold alone based on Tony’s look of utter satisfaction at the end.

Jimmy McNulty, The Wire
On the topic of professions that aren’t ideally suited to parenting, getting your kids to help you with a drug and homicide investigation would be right up there. While we don’t see much of Jimmy McNulty with his kids, what we do see isn’t really from the parenting text book (someone should have told McNulty that whiskey and Ikea furniture assembly do not mix). In this clip, McNulty loses his kids when he gets them to follow a man he suspects of running a murderous drug gang. Watch for how he describes to a security guard what the kids are wearing.

Hal, Malcolm in the Middle
Before he went on to become TV’s favourite crystal meth manufacture in Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston was Hal, the disengaged but loving dad in Malcolm in the Middle’s rowdy family. A man of many dreams, Hal watched every single one of them destroyed by his family. This clip shows him holding on to one last, fading moment in time ... (warning, this scene contains rollerskates).

Ray Hueston, Bored to Death
After having his sperm stolen by a couple of lesbians (best not to ask), Ray discovers he’s the proud father of baby Spencer. Being the ‘Man-Child’ poster-boy, Ray very quickly discovers that raising a child isn’t as easy as, say, lounging around the house and drawing comics. But with some helpful tips from his mum he might just get the hang of it ...

George Bluth Snr, Arrested Development
Some TV dads are pretty self-absorbed. Then there’s George Bluth Snr. Taking manipulation and control to an all new level, George Snr is the model patriarch of a crumbling empire. Pitting siblings against each other is all in a day’s work for America’s most wanted white-collar criminal. And when you’re rich and powerful, what’s the point of tact?

Frank Costanza, Seinfeld
As Frank would say, “Let’s rumble!!” Not content with scarring George with such inventions as the Mansierre and the beltless trench coat, Frank subjected his only son to the annual feats of strength and airing of grievances that is Festivus. Watch this clip for a reminder of just how good Seinfeld – and, indeed, Jerry Stiller – was.

Frank Gallagher, Shameless
From one Frank to another. How would you even start to explain Frank Gallagher, the man who took the word ‘function’ out of ‘dysfunction’? The only way is to leave it to the man himself with this clip (as with all Frank’s scenes, watch out for some ... erm ... ‘questionable’ language).

Being an emotionally detached serial killer would probably be the worst role any parent could have ...