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Tim Allen Returns: Here Are 6 Other Men We Want To See Playing Dads Again

Next week, one of TV’s ultimate dads returns to television. ABC has Last Man Standing set to make it’s debut next Tuesday night, which brings Tim Allen back to television as family man and father. Recalling Allen’s days as Tim Taylor on Home Improvement had us thinking about some of our other favorite TV dads, inspiring us to make a list of the actors we’d love to see back on television in a dad-like role.

Bryan Cranston’s dadding it up on Breaking Bad, although there’s barely a trace of his character Hal from Malcolm in the Middle in his part as Walter White. Meanwhile Ed O’Neill is both father and grandfather in Modern Family. Which other actors would we love to see back on TV playing a father once again?

John Goodman

(by Leslie Kasperowicz)

In spite of the shrieking, looming shadow of Roseanne, Dan Connor remains one of the most memorable fathers in TV history. He was the working class everyman who always did whatever it took to keep his family’s heads above water. Dan was a softie with a gruff exterior and a dreamer who was without real ambition to move beyond his simple life. He was a dad who could take things in stride but whose anger was something to behold when his lines were crossed. He reminded me of my own father, and I’m sure I am not the only one. A return to television playing a father – perhaps a father to much older children – for John Goodman would be a must-see for me. What Goodman brings to the screen is the feeling that he isn’t really acting; even in some of his more over-the-top roles (The Big Lebowski), he is simply believable. Goodman just looks like the kind of father who has your back, who gives the best hugs, and knows when a raised eyebrow is enough. Whether in comedy or in a drama, Goodman can create the kind of father role people can’t help but gravitate towards – he’s the TV dad TV is really missing right now.

James Gandolfini

(by Scott Heisel)

The Tony Soprano character's claim to fame isn't exactly exclusively based on his status as a father but that doesn't take a thing away from James Gandolfini's fantastic portrayal of the mobster dad. Not only is The Sopranos one of the greatest achievements in television, Gandolfini's character is one of the most original and well-played fathers in recent memory. The show dedicated an admirable amount of its content to addressing Tony's fatherly dilemmas, many of which focused specifically on his two children. We also got to see Tony playing an entirely different kind of father for his mobster nephew and the evolving relationship with his wife. Anyone who would attempt to argue that Tony is a good father would have some serious work cut out for them --there can be little doubt of the danger his career put his entire family in and the transgressions of his children were likely to send him into fits of rage-- but he is not nearly as bad as he might have been, being capable of brief moments of wisdom and honesty. We're missing James Gandolfini on television in general, and most definitely as a father.

Bob Saget

(by Mack Rawden)

With his cleaning obsession, awesome job at Wake Up, San Francisco and unending hatred for Kimmy Gibbler, Bob Saget’s Danny Tanner raised three lovely girls and kept his house of obnoxious hooligans in order for eight seasons on Full House. I still can’t get enough, probably because I watched every episode so many times as a child. I still laugh every time Joey makes one of his awful jokes, still smile every time Michele says, “You got it, dude” and still secretly wish I could watch Bob Saget play a dad again on television. He already does, in a way, on How I Met Your Mother, but his voice just isn’t enough to satiate my craving. Many stand-up comedy fans probably know in real life the actor is world renowned for his filthy, almost sociopathic mind, which is why I see this show blending Danny Tanner’s G-rated persona and Saget’s vile putrescence. He could play a married, involved husband and father who handles domestic issues with grace and tact, only to hit up the bars once a weekend for nights of aggressive debauchery.

Richard Jenkins

(by Jessica Grabert)

Richard Jenkins is not a man to shy away from a father role. He has played a wry father, a slightly muddled dad, a good dad, and a remarried dad just looking to catch a break from his thirty-something son. He’s lit up film performances for over thirty years and he generally always brings something to the table, whether he’s playing any given father or a Buddhist hippie opposite Julia Roberts. What he hasn’t really been is a fan of television. In thirty years Jenkins has managed recurring roles in the eighties cop franchise Miami Vice and a role as a dead father on the HBO program Six Feet Under. As Nathaniel Fisher, Jenkins achieved the near impossible: In twenty episodes he fed life into a cigarette-loving, dead character, and he figured out the quirks and mechanisms of a hallucinated dude who, for practical purposes, couldn’t take himself too seriously. If Jenkins can play a dead father to such high esteem, just think what he could do as a fleshed-out TV dad. I know I would tune in to watch.

Loudon Wainwright III

(by Jesse Carp)

You may know him as Loudon Wainwright III, folk singer and father of Rufus, Martha and Lucy. I know him as Hal Karp, father to Jay Baruchel's Steven on Judd Apatow's short-lived sitcom Undeclared. He's the funniest thing on a show with Baruchel, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Carla Gallo and Timm Sharp not to mention cameos from Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell (among others). Singing the horrifyingly embarrassing 'Baby I'm a Man,' in front of Sandler et all in "The Assistant" sums up my love for Hal, the recently separated, walking mid-life crisis and cause of endless awkwardness for his ever patient son. Oh, but Hal's got a great heart too, even if he comes on way too strong and says the wrong thing. That's the Apatow stamp, a lot of crude, cringeworthy comedy but also a lot of heart. I would love to see Wainwright return to TV in a fatherly role (a one-hour dramedy seems perfect) because he's just a great showman. I also find it interesting that a man who apparently had quite a distant relationship with his own children could also play one of my favorite TV dads of all-time. All in only 17 episodes.

Enrico Colantoni

(by Kelly West)

Enrico Colantoni’s role as Keith Mars proved to be one of the best things about Veronica Mars. Serving as both a father and the boss to teen detective Veronica, Keith Mars was the kind of dad who used humor to lighten the mood when times were tough, but stepped up as an authority figure whenever Veronica crossed the line, which she had a tendency to do. He balanced authority with love and friendship perfectly, rising up when necessary and proving to be the kind of father who would, quite literally, walk through fire to protect his daughter if push came to shove. Colantoni is technically a father on his current series Flashpoint, however it would be great to see him star in a TV role that has fatherhood among his primary responsibilities. The Mars family wasn’t a big family, being made up of just two people, but Keith Mars was a family man and it worked for the show. It’d be great to see Colantoni in another role that has him tackling the challenges of fatherhood with with humor and heart as he did on VM.