TV dads run the gamut when it comes to personalities. You've got lovable goofs, sarcastic father figures and the well-meaning dads who do their best to raise sweet kids. Then you have the intimidating dads who nobody dares mess with: fierce fathers who run with criminal organizations or who are so merciless you'd rather do the dishes than face their wrath. Check out our top picks for the toughest TV dads, and watch them in action on your Smart TV and Amazon Instant Video.
1. Walter Bishop of Fringe
Brainy Walter Bishop isn't exactly what you'd call a typical dad. While he's not intimidating in the same sense as Jax Teller or Tony Soprano, his genius is what puts him on the list—you never know what kind of dad warfare he'll initiate. He can concoct the most devious of plans—with his pet cow as an assistant, of course—and send you time traveling into a dystopian future with no way to get back. When a dad has a bovine companion and the ability to time travel, you definitely do not want to mess with him.
2. Philip Jennings of The Americans
Having a Dad as a KGB agent has its ups and downs, even if you don’t have a clue that your loving father is a super spy. On the bright side, you can rest assured the bullies on the playground will meet their match if they mess with you. But, you break curfew or fail to eat your peas, and you'll have to endure the rage of a dad who means business.
3. Robert Crawley of Downton Abbey
Lord Grantham—patriarch of the Crawley House—may not be the wealthiest of aristocrats, but he certainly comes from a proper and privileged upbringing complete with an esteemed education. His book smarts, "matter of factness" and ability to wrangle and raise three headstrong daughters makes him the kind of pop you approach with caution lest you make yourself a fool. He's not necessarily unpredictable, but he has the ability to make a reasonable decision you can't help but go along with. This Earl is also fiercely loyal to his wife, daughters and servants, so if you mess with them, expect to pay the proper consequences.
4. Jackson "Jax" Teller of Sons of Anarchy
Don't let Jax's softer side fool you—this dad is tougher than the rubber on his motorcycle's well-used wheels. Like many of the dads on this list, he's protective of his family and will go to extreme measures in order to keep them safe. In fact, Jax doesn't hesitate to get a little extreme, even violent, when someone tries to sidestep him or his loved ones. Wrong him or someone he cares for and prepare to look over your shoulder until he settles the score. And he will definitely settle the score.
5. Jack Bauer of 24
There isn't a disaster scenario that Jack Bauer isn't prepared for. Spilled milk? Not a problem. This super dad could wipe up a massive dump of toxic chemicals, free 150 hostages and take out a dozen terrorists in a single morning. Unlike some of the criminal masterminds on this list, Jack Bauer is, generally, a good guy who fights for the people. Consider him a Robin Hood of sorts—but with access to the government's savviest devices and the ability to torture a man into complete and utter submission.
6. Tom Mason of Falling Skies
Tom Mason may not be a KGB spy, mafia man or torturer extraordinaire, but this American History professor has some serious smarts. Not only is he savvy enough to survive a massive alien invasion in which 90% of the population falls prey, he's passionate about keeping his family—and the human race—safe from further attacks. Tom is the kind of dad that makes you feel safe enough at night to fall asleep with ease and have peaceful dreams, even when there are six-legged extra-terrestrials stomping outside your window.
7. Ragnar Lothbrok of Vikings
This thunderous Viking is a father of six who believes himself a descendent of Odin, a Germanic mythical god renowned for his wisdom and fury. Ragnar thrives on the battlefield and wields medieval weapons—including axes, swords and spears—with the kind of prowess that would intimidate anyone. His quickness to slay and his fearlessness in a fight-to-the-death make him the kind of dad you listen to when he orders you to clean your room.
8. Vic Mackey of The Shield
Headstrong Vic Mackey doesn't consider himself a good cop or a bad cop. Nope, this balls-to-the-wall dad is "a different kind of cop" who answers to nobody but himself. He's got a classic case of dirty mouth syndrome and the ability to make you laugh while simultaneously sending you into a fit of terror. Ultimately, he's the quintessential likable "bad boy" with a Machiavellian reputation that precedes him. Mess with Mackey and you're in for a wretched demise.
9. Tony Soprano of Sopranos
Perhaps the most notorious father on this list, Tony Soprano is certainly a dad you don't want to poke. He's faced with the pressure of serving as the de facto boss of the DiMeo family and oversees New Jersey's most influential and powerful criminal organization. If the stress isn't enough to make him snap, the fact that he's often pulled in various directions certainly will. His bottom line is his family and their business, which means that even close friends risk their lives when their plans contradict his own.
10. Seth Bullock of Deadwood
Based on a real North American sheriff and U.S. Marshall who lived in the late 19th century and early 20th, Seth Bullock of HBO's Deadwood is an impressive figure, no doubt. This unyielding lawman-meets-politician takes his duties very seriously in Deadwood, a riotous and unruly camp located in South Dakota. Seth Bullock doesn't just enforce and uphold the law, though. He is the law. He's also got a posse of appointed deputies to back him up, so when you mess with Bullock, expect to meet the entire gang.
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