Homer is a bit of a buffoon who just wants the quiet life — a few beers and some hotdogs and he's in his element. Lisa is a clever, spiky, outspoken over-achiever. Homer doesn't understand her and frequently is exasperated by her and her saxophone playing and campaigning. But he's determined to do what's right for his little girl when it really matters.
Rick is the star of AMC's The Walking Dead — a series about survivors of an apocalyptic outbreak who fight off zombies and scrounge for food and vital medicines. As well as being dad to a dotey little baby girl called Judith, Rick is a former sheriff's deputy who has become the 'dad' of a gang in search of a safe haven.
Bonus points to Rick for keeping his baby girl safe. Bonus bonus points for looking no more grizzled than any other dad of a newborn. Bonus bonus bonus points for keeping said baby cleaner than most parents manage in normal times.
Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird brings us this single father to two children in 1930s American south. He leaves his children grow up 'freerange' to a certain extent — he doesn't seem to impose strict rules on 'appropriate' clothing or activities for a young girl of the time but certainly makes his mark where it counts. His sense of fairness, his teaching, and his honesty have made him a favourite fictional character for generations of readers. He's brave and teaches his children important life lessons and sets a good example by always being honest. And he's a crack-shot with a rifle too — important when there might be rabid dogs in the neighbourhood.
Liam Neeson plays Bryan in Taken. He's pretty good at killing foreign terrorists and human traffickers and he puts his "very particular set of skills" to great use when rescuing his daughter from kidnappers. Bonus points for this retired CIA operative for being so cool while dealing with crisis after crisis. Loses some points for ending up in similar situations time after time — yes there is a Taken 2 and a Taken 3. Oscar Wilde had something to say about misfortune and carelessness...
Charles Ingalls was the father of Laura Ingalls Wilder who might be best known for her Little House series of books. He's known as 'Pa' or 'Oh Charles' throughout the books. Talk about a set of skills — this dad can build houses, ride wagons, farm, hunt, sing, and dispense wisdom to his little girls. Pa Ingalls works ferociously hard but always has time to chat to Laura and her sisters and often brings them along on trips across the prairie. His wanderlust sees him bringing his family through hardship and many adventures across Wisconsin, Kansas, and Minnesota but he gives Laura enough material for some cracking books and there was a TV series too.
Even dead - early spoiler alert - Ned Stark is a better dad than some of the other fathers in George RR Martin's Game of Thrones series.
Edward (Ned) is the father of six children and is the virtuous and honorable patriarch of House Stark. Arya and her sister Sansa are very different people - Arya is rebellious and active whereas Sansa aims to make a good marriage and prides herself on her sewing and other domestic skills — but Ned loves both and appreciates their differences. He arranges sword-fighting lessons for Arya which serve her well more times than even he could have imagined. Even if he wasn't being compared to Tyrion Lannister (cruel, manipulative, sexist) or Stannis Baratheon (uncompromising, dishonourable, murderous), he would come out on top here.
Mr Bennet is a major character in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice even if he is doing his best to stay out of drama and domestic issues. He is married to Mrs Bennet and they have five daughters, Jane Bingley, Elizabeth Darcy, Mary Bennet, Catherine Bennet, and Lydia Wickham. His most robust relationship with his daughters is with Elizabeth,- not surprising as she is the most like him with her level-headedness and observance. He has a gently sarcastic wit but a generally relaxed approach to letting his daughters make their own decisions. He's a bit too detached to get top marks — let's give him a 'could try harder'.
Clark is the absolute star of the National Lampoon set of films. Well-meaning, kind-hearted and generally a dedicated dad — even when Audrey is being as charming as a teenager can. He's all about creating happy family memories and spending family time together. He loves Audrey despite her eye-rolling and sulks and complaints. Top marks for good intentions and all-round kindness. Drop a few points for dodgy driving skills, disastrous decorating ability, appalling pre-planning, and general clumsiness.
Top marks for inspiring and motivating your daughter, Darth. Negative marks for being possibly the worst ever dad in intergalactic history. You inspire her to command the rebels and lead the resistance against... well, you. Your superweapon, the Death Star, motivates her to great feats and acts of bravery. You had nothing to do with her growing up so you get no credit for all those super skills. You don't seem to form personal relationships well — you treat the storm troopers like expendable pawns. So fair play to her for her kindness to droids, wookiees and ewoks. Your personal style is a bit dark and repetitive so zero credit for her ability to rock anything from a white dress to a combat poncho.
Lord Grantham is compassionate, intelligent, always honourable and generally reasonable. He lets his daughters make their own choices about marriage and fashion. He's a bit old-fashioned and too reverent of tradition. But living in an inherited mansion with dozens of servants can do that to a person. He does his best to embrace modernity to let his daughters follow their own hearts.