TV Dads: Real-Life Salaries Nearly $200,000

If his job on TV is any guide, "dad" is earning more than twice what he used to. This Father's Day, has revealed what the most popular TV dad characters of all-time would bring home in real-life. The results may surprise you. The average TV dad salary, in today's dollars, has more than doubled since the early days of television. This increased income for TV dads is fueled by the popular TV dad jobs of today, such as lawyer, neurosurgeon, psychiatrist, and real estate developer.

Starting in the 1980s, we began seeing popular TV dads like Philip Drummond of "Diff'rent Strokes" and Cliff Huxtable of "The Cosby Show" start to earn higher incomes. Since then, TV dad salaries have been on the rise.'s team of compensation experts studied a sampling of 60 TV fathers from the most popular television shows over the past six decades. Today's TV dads have an average salary of $195,000 per year, which is more than twice the salary of their 1950's counterparts, who were earning the equivalent of $75,000 (in 2005 dollars).

Plastic surgeon Sean McNamara of "Nip/Tuck" and lawyer Sandy Cohen of "The OC", along with their healthy salaries, have long since replaced the more modestly paid Ward Cleaver and Fred Flintstone dad types of yesterday. According to Bill Coleman, Senior VP of Compensation at, "on average, today's TV dads have jobs that pay significantly more and their jobs are also seen as more glamorous than jobs held by their counterparts from the popular shows of the past." Coleman added, "but what's more interesting is that throughout the history of television, many of the most memorable and iconic dads are paid about the same. Take Ward Cleaver of 'Leave It To Beaver,' Archie Bunker of 'All In The Family' and Ray Barone of 'Everybody Loves Raymond,' for example. Those characters would all be paid a mid-forties salary today in real life. Television continues to reflect society and the average American continues to relate to the average dad with the average job and the average salary."

We ranked the sampling of 60 TV dad salaries from popular shows since the 1950s. Ten dads were used in each decade solely to compute the TV dad salary average. Based on jobs and their 2005 market salaries, Hollywood's depiction of popular fathers has been moving up the corporate ladder at a rate of about 21 percent per decade.

Click on your favorite dad to see his benchmark job and would-be June 2005 salary.

TV Dad Salaries
Pay Rank
TV Dad

Blake Carrington CEO
"Dynasty" 1981-89

J.R. "Jock" Ewing, Sr. CEO
"Dallas" 1978-91


Philip Drummond President
"Diff'rent Strokes" 1978-86
Chase Gioberti Vineyard Owner
"Falcon Crest" 1981-90
George Jefferson CEO
"The Jeffersons" 1975-85
Michael Bluth CEO
"Arrested Development" 2003-
Jed Bartlet US President $400,000
"West Wing" 1999-
Andy Brown Neurosurgeon
"Everwood" 2002-
Sean McNamara Plastic Surgeon
"Nip/Tuck" 2003-
Vernon Albright Investment Executive
"My Little Margie" 1952-55
Walter Findley Appliance Store Owner
"Maude" 1972-78
Cliff Huxtable Obstetrician
"The Cosby Show" 1984-92
Tim Taylor TV Host
"Home Improvement" 1991-99
George Baxter Corporate Lawyer
"Hazel" 1961-66
Frasier Crane Radio Psychiatrist
"Frasier" 1993-2004
Jason Seaver Psychiatrist
"Growing Pains" 1985-92
Phillip Banks Judge
"Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" 1990-96
Howard Borden Airline Pilot
"The Bob Newhart Show" 1972-78
Danny Tanner TV Host
"Full House" 1987-95
Sandy Cohen Lawyer
"The OC" 2003-
Bill Davis Consulting Engineer
"Family Affair" 1966-71
Sam Aldrich District Attorney
"The Aldrich Family" 1949-53
Rob Petrie TV Writer
"The Dick Van Dyke Show" 1961-66
Tom Corbett Magazine Publisher
"The Courtship of Eddie's Father" 1969-72
Alan Harper Chiropractor
"Two and a Half Men" 2003-
Andy Taylor Sheriff
"The Andy Griffith Show" 1960-68
Tom Scavo Sales Manager
"Desperate Housewives" 2004-
Ross Gellar Paleontology Professor
"Friends" 1994-2004
Darrin Stephens Advertising Executive
"Bewitched" 1964-72
Homer Simpson Nuclear Safety Inspector
"The Simpsons" 1989-
Henry Mitchell Engineer
"Dennis The Menace" 1986-88
Frank Costanza Salesman
"Seinfeld" 1990-98
Steve Douglas Aviation Engineer
"My Three Sons" 1960-72
Nate Fisher Funeral Director
"Six Feet Under" 2001-
Ricky Ricardo Bandleader
"I Love Lucy" 1951-57
Frank De Fazio Pizza Bowl Manager
"Laverne and Shirley" 1976-83
Howard Cunningham Store Manager
"Happy Days" 1974-84
Tom Bradford Columnist
"Eight is Enough" 1977-81
Lars "Papa" Hansen Carpenter
"Mama" 1949-56
Carl Winslow Police Officer
"Family Matters" 1989-98
Herman Munster Undertaker
"The Munsters" 1964-66


Chester A. Riley Airplane Riveter
"The Life of Riley" 1953-58
Ray Barone Sportswriter
"Everybody Loves Raymond" 1996-2005
Ward Cleaver Accountant
"Leave It To Beaver" 1957-63
Archie Bunker Dock Foreman
"All in The Family" 1971-79
George Burns Entertainer
"Burns and Allen" 1950-58
Danny Williams Nightclub Entertainer
"Make Room For Daddy" 1953-65


Mike Brady Architect
"The Brady Bunch" 1969-74
Elliot Stabler Detective
"Law and Order: SVU" 1999-
Andy Sipowicz Detective
"NYPD Blue" 1993-2005
Steven Keaton TV Station Manager
"Family Ties" 1982-89
Jim Anderson Insurance Agent
"Father Knows Best" 1954-60
Dan Conner Construction Worker
"Roseanne" 1988-97
Fred Flintstone Quarry Crane Operator
"The Flintstones" 1960-66
Fred G. Sanford Junk Dealer
"Sanford and Sons" 1972-77
Al Bundy Shoe Salesman
"Married With Children" 1987-97
John Walton, Sr. Lumberman
"The Waltons" 1972-81
Tony Micelli Housekeeper
"Who's The Boss" 1984-92
James Evans, Sr. Unemployed
"Good Times" 1974-79

Some Favorite TV Dads

Based on an informal poll of site visitors, we identified some of your favorites. Below is a little more information about those dads.

#3 Philip Drummond of "Diff'rent Strokes" 1978-86
Philip Drummond (Conrad Bain) earned a large salary in 1978 as president of the Manhattan based Trans Allied Inc. Philip was a widower who had a daughter of his own, as well as two adopted sons, Arnold and Willis. "Whatcha talkin' bout," Philip? You're the 3rd highest paid TV dad on our list!

#9 Sean McNamara of "Nip/Tuck" 2003-
Life is good when you get the paycheck of a plastic surgeon in Miami. That is until Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) has to go home and deal with his out-of-control wife and son.

#12 Dr. Cliff Huxtable of "The Cosby Show" 1984-92
Bill Cosby broke down countless barriers as Dr. Cliff Huxtable and will always be regarded as one of the greatest TV dads of all-time. Cliff was happily married, rich, and had five children. And yes, he was an obstetrician.

#13 Tim Taylor of "Home Improvement" 1991-99
More power. More money. When "Tool Time" host Tim Taylor (Tim Allen) wasn't causing disasters on the set of his show, he was contributing to the delinquency of his three sons.

#15 Frasier Crane of "Frasier" 1993-2004
Although this father-son relationship was "born" on "Cheers" (1982-1993), Frasier's fatherly role doesn't really appear until his next show. The cities change, but the characters are consistent across the shows, including Frasier's job as a psychiatrist.

#17 Uncle Phil of "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" 1990-96
Philip Banks, played by James Avery, will always be one of America's most beloved TV dads, not only because he had to raise Carlton, Hilary, Ashley, and baby, but also because he took nephew Will into his posh Bel-Air home. Uncle Phil worked as a judge during the day, and put up with Will's antics and Carlton's dance moves at night. In the end, inner city kid Will and Bel-Air Uncle Phil learned a lot from each other.

#19 Danny Tanner of "Full House" 1987-95
Widower Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) manages to hold down the full house with the help of rocker Uncle Jessie and funny Uncle Joey. Father to DJ, Michelle, and Stephanie, Danny also puts up with neighbor Kimmy Gibbler. Danny Tanner is another classic widower TV dad, paying his bills as a San Francisco morning show host, and keeping his house super clean for his girls.

#20 Sandy Cohen of "The OC" 2003-
In addition to fathering Seth, lawyer Sandy Cohen (Peter Gallagher) takes in the troubled teen Ryan from the harsh streets of Riverside, California. Their relationship is a story of tough love, as Sandy helps Ryan through his legal troubles and welcomes him into his own home. Sandy Cohen epitomizes today's wealthy Los Angeles TV dad. Nice eyebrows.

#30 Homer Simpson of "The Simpsons" 1989-
No TV dad has had the unbelievable staying power of the one and only Homer Simpson. "The Simpsons", once about Bart, now revolves around the trials and tribulations of America's favorite TV dad. And while Homer has been known to choke Bart, spend a little too much time at Mo's, and sometimes forget that he even has a baby daughter, he does work a dead-end job he hates in order to support his family. The fatherly character of Homer is epitomized in the episode when he gives up his family to be a rock star, goes to rock star camp, and figures out that he really wants to be at home- choking Bart and eating donuts. And that is why nuclear safety inspector Homer Simpson is one of our favorite TV dads this Father's Day.

#34 Nate Fisher of "Six Feet Under" 2001-05
Nate Fisher (Peter Krause) took over half of the family funeral business after his father's death. Nate's struggles with women, along with the fact that he fathered a child behind his girlfriend's back, drive the plot of the show.

#40 Carl Winslow of "Family Matters" 1989-98
Hey, big guy! Chicago police officer Carl Winslow (Reginald VelJohnson) could never seem to escape from the pesky Steve Urkel. And he couldn't keep Urkel away from his daughter either.

#43 Ray Barone of "Everybody Loves Raymond" 1996-2005
Sportswriter Ray Barone (Ray Romano) may have a beautiful wife and family, but his next-door neighbor parents and brother make his life a living hell.

#44 Ward Cleaver of "Leave It To Beaver" 1957-63
Ward Cleaver, played by Hugh Beaumont, was the head of the classic all-American 1950's TV family, as well as the quintessential 1950's TV dad. While he worked all day down at the salt mines as an accountant, Wally was trying to keep The Beaver out of trouble. At the day and episode's end, Mr. Cleaver always let The Beaver off the hook with a moral and a little parental wisdom. That Eddie Haskell, however, seemed to never get caught.

#45 Archie Bunker of "All in the Family" 1971-79
Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor) is the conservative dock foreman head of the Bunker household. He is in a constant argument with his liberal son-in-law, "Meathead". "All in the Family" spurred 3 other shows, "The Jeffersons", "Maude", and "Good Times".

#48 Mike Brady of "The Brady Bunch" 1969-74
It seemed as if the only place the Brady father (Robert Reed) could ever get any peace and quiet was in his study, where he worked on new architectural designs. And he must have been making decent pay in order to compensate Alice, fix Marsha's nose, and replace Mom's favorite vase. Architect Mike Brady was the steel beam that held the Brady building together.

#54 Fred Flintstone of "The Flintstones" 1960-1966
Fred Flintstone is the modern Stone Age dad, a quarry crane operator who supports wife Wilma and daughter Pebbles. Fred is the cartoon reincarnation of Jackie Gleason in "The Honeymooners". Perhaps Fred's most fatherly duty is powering the Flintstone's car with his feet.

#57 Al Bundy of "Married…With Children" 1987-97
America could not help but feel bad for Al Bundy (Ed O'Neill), a women's shoe salesman who hated his job and couldn't let go of his dream of being a football star. Not to mention that his wife was lazy and spent all his money at the mall, his son wasn't too much of a hit with the ladies, and his daughter was, well, too much of a hit with the guys. Al Bundy was the ideal dad of the dysfunctional family. "Married...With Children" is the show that helped launch The Fox Network.