Dads: We can’t live with them and we can’t live without ’em—literally. They can be cheesy, irritating and all kinds of embarrassing, but they’re also the guys who will teach you how to throw a baseball, give you driving lessons and walk you down the aisle (if you’re into that sort of thing). They loved you the moment you emerged into the world, slimy and naked and screaming. So, in honor of Father’s Day, we’re counting down the moments when our favorite TV dads experienced all of the above in front of millions of people on national television.
The Big Reveal, Part 1—Pregnancy
Step one is finding out that you’re going to be a father. For Ricky Ricardo of I Love Lucy, the announcement was met with song—appropriately and adorably so. Everyone’s favorite slacker, Jim from The Office, never looked happier than when he and Pam unexpectedly found out that she was expecting. But the best pregnancy discovery on television has got to be Park and Recreation’s recent revelation that Ron Swanson—the impatient bacon connoisseur who would never be described as “good with children”—is going to be a father, in part because he never expected it.
The Big Reveal, Part 2—The Kid
The moment when a TV dad meets their child for the first time has changed in the past 50 years. In the ’60s, when Samantha and Darrin on Bewitched had their first child, Darrin was not allowed in the birthing room. In fact, when he does finally meet his new daughter, Tabitha, the nurse warns him, “Don’t get too close, and don’t sit on the bed.” As Michelle from Full House would say, how rude!
Luckily for TV dads everywhere, the times have changed. Dads such as Steve from Sex and the City, Ross from Friends, and Marshall from How I Met Your Mother get to watch their first child be born. J.D. and Turk from Scrubs go to great lengths to be in the delivery room for their respective significant others—Turk got his hand stuck in an ice machine but dragged it with him to the delivery room while J.D. boldly faced the wrath of his ex-girlfriend to be let in.
Terrified first-time dads could learn something from calmer, more experienced TV fathers. Reverend Eric Camden from 7th Heaven was cool and collected when his wife, Annie, gave birth to their late-in-life twin babies, while an undeterred Maxwell Sheffield on The Nanny coached Fran through the delivery despite constant heckling. Phil on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air was calm, too, though this happened after he fell and was given his own sedatives.
The Big Reveal, Part 3—Surprise!
Sometimes TV moms don’t tell TV dads about their children, so the surprise happens after the kid has been born. On Scrubs, Dr. Cox was less than thrilled when he accidentally found out that his girlfriend’s baby was actually his. And on The Cosby Show, Denise surprised her parents by showing up at home out of the blue—with a new husband and stepdaughter in tow. Cliff may not have been expecting a new granddaughter in his life, but he and Olivia quickly became best buddies.