10 Chicago TV Dads We Love and Learn from

From bumbling to bombastic to brainy, dads — as seen on TV — are portrayed as everything from the peacemaker to absent. When showing off Chicago to the country, Hollywood producers had a few ideas about what the city’s father figures look like. Here are a few to remember:

Lt. Christopher Hermann – “Chicago Fire”

  • Series run: 2012-present

Married with children ranging from newborn to teenagers, Christopher Hermann talks often about his kids, wife and family with the rest of the firehouse. David Eigenberg, himself the father of two, plays the part of dad and soul of the station. Hermann’s compassion helps him empathize with the youngest fire victims. 

Frank Gallagher – “Shameless”

  • Series run: 2011-present

Father of the year he’s not, but William H. Macy plays Frank Gallagher, the single father of six from Canaryville on Chicago’s South Side, with perfection. Gallagher as a single dad is not even trying to keep his family together. The show centers on his alcoholism and how it impacts each child differently and how each works to better his or her life, or end up in jail. Gallagher doesn’t try to be politically correct or end each episode with a lesson. The show is based on the British program of the same name.

Jim – “According to Jim”

  • Series run: 2001-09

Living in the suburbs of Chicago, Jim Belushi, plays Jim (whose last name is never mentioned), a father of three who loves the Bears, Cubs, Bulls and Blackhawks and his family. In addition to playing the lead and title character, Belushi directed 30 episodes of the show.

Dr. Peter Benton – “ER”

  • Series run: 1994-2001

Eriq LaSalle was a core cast member of “ER” introduced in the pilot as a talented second-year surgical resident. Benton’s entrance to fatherhood begins when his girlfriend becomes pregnant and their son, Reese, is born prematurely and later is learned to be deaf. Despite threats of paternity, Benton learns sign language, works through toddlerhood and maintains his link to Reese. After the (now-ex) girlfriend dies following a car accident, Benton takes Reese out-of-state to live and start a new life away from Chicago, thus ending LaSalle’s run on the show in the eighth season.

Sgt. Bob Fraser – “Due South”

  • Series run: 1994-99

Gordon Pinsent had one line on “Due South” as a living character, playing the bulk of the four seasons that the show was on television as a ghost. His death brings his son, Benton, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer, to Chicago, hunting down the trail of his father’s killers. Benton stays to work with CPD, and Bob appears as an apparition to allow for the father-son relationship that the two never had while the elder Fraser was alive.

Drew Thatcher – “Life Goes On”

  • Series run: 1989-93

Played by Bill Smitrovich, Drew was the patriarch of the Thatcher family, and father to the oldest daughter, Paige, middle son Corky and youngest daughter Becca. He transitions from a construction worker to a restaurant owner, and tries to keep up with the teenage drama, and coaching his son, who has Down syndrome, in Special Olympics.

Al Bundy – “Married … With Children”

  • Series run: 1987-97

Al Bundy was a running back on his high school football team and his life peaked at graduation. Ed O’Neill played Bundy, the father of a family of four, with sarcasm and hostility. Bundy dislikes his wife, kids and job as a shoe salesman. He is disliked by his neighbors, wife’s friends and boss. Fans loved Al and his honest, open dialogue, his disastrous tries at home repair and his love of free beer and bowling.

George Papadopolis – “Webster”

  • Series run: 1983-89

George was a sportscaster turned father when his best friends were killed in a car accident and he takes over custody of his godson. Alex Karras, a former football player himself, played Papadopolis, whom the adopted Webster called “George.” George transitions quickly into the dad role and Karras showed a softer side to his football persona.

Henry Warnimont – “Punky Brewster”

  • Series run: 1984-88

George Gaynes, a WWII vet of the Royal Dutch Navy, played Henry, who finds Punky Brewster living in the vacant apartment across the hall. Henry takes in Punky as a foster child, then adopts her and her faithful dog. The widower is grumpy, but Punky helps bring out his softer, paternal side.

James Evans – “Good Times”

  • Series run: 1974-79

Played by John Amos, James and Florida Evans made up the first married Black family on television. As the father in the family, James worked multiple jobs, and though he often was unemployed he never accepted charity, leading to times playing pool. After three seasons his contract wasn’t renewed and the character was killed off in a two-part episode, allowing Amos to begin a movie career.


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