Whatever Happened To These '90s Sitcom Dads?

Folks who grew up watching sitcoms in the '90s often feel a personal connection to these TV families–particularly the dads. Father figures on popular shows ranged from mean and grumpy to handy and wise, so chances are you saw something in these characters that resonated on your family tree. But whatever happened to the men who played the dads of the decade? It's time for a reunion!

James Avery - The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

For six seasons, the late James Avery played everyone's favorite rich dad and uncle on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Philip Banks was a first-rate judge, excellent parent, and mentor to his nephew Will Smith. 

After the sitcom ended in 1996, Avery made guest appearances in several shows, including Grey's Anatomy, Dharma & Greg, Soul Food. He also landed a number of voice acting roles in projects such as The Nightmare Room, The Legend of Tarzan, and Pepper Ann.

On Jan. 1, 2014, Avery died, at age 68, of complications from open heart surgery. According to CNN, he left behind a wife of 26 years and a stepson. Co-star and friend Joseph Marcell called Avery "a marvelous man and a truly wonderful actor." Marcell said, "He strove to present an Uncle Phil that everybody wishes was their uncle." His on-screen son, actor Alfonso Ribeiro, called Avery "a second father... I will miss him greatly."

Tim Allen - Home Improvement

When Home Improvement kicked off in 1991, Tim "The Toolman" Taylor instantly became the handy-dandy fix-it dad of television. For eight season, Tim Allen played the macho and oft grouchy father to three boys. When the show ended in 1999, Allen starred in a number of other big projects, including the Toy Story franchise, Cars, and the long-running series Last Man Standing.

When not in character, Allen has become increasingly known for controversial commentary. In March 2017, he landed in hot water for comparing Hollywood to Nazi Germany during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! "You've gotta be real careful around here," he said, referring to the liberalism associated with Hollywood. "You get beat up if don't believe what everybody believes. This is like '30s Germany." 

When Last Man Standing took a seat in 2017, some suggested Allen's conservative politics had something to do with it, but ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey said otherwise. "We have actors on our shows who have all sorts of different political views," Dungey said (via People.) "Tim Allen is a valuable part of the Disney/ABC family. He has been for a very, very long time."

Ray Romano - Everybody Loves Raymond

Ray Barone was a lovable TV dad from Long Island, N.Y. on the hit series Everybody Loves Raymond. For nine seasons, actor Ray Romano starred as a sports columnist who fumbled his way through relationships with his wife, his cop brother, his co-workers, his doting mother and grouchy father, and, of course, his three kids. 

When the show ended in 2005, Romano peddled his comedic talents around Hollywood, landing notable gigs in the Ice Age franchise, Men of a Certain Age, and Parenthood. While things appeared to be going great on screen, Romano and his wife, Anna, dealt with a very serious challenge behind the scenes. 

In 2010, Anna was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time of this writing, she's doing well, and the Romanos are working hard to ensure that others have the same access to care that they did. "We were blessed and didn't have to worry, 'Does insurance cover this?'" Ray told People. "We want to give that [peace of mind] to other women."

Reginald VelJohnson - Family Matters

For nine seasons, Reginald VelJohnson starred as the stern, yet sometimes goofy, father on Family Matters. VelJohnson's character, Carl Winslow, was a Chicago-area police officer with a heart of gold. He not only became one of America's most beloved dads, he also served as a father figure to the infamous nerd Steve Urkel (Jaleel White.) 

When the series ended in 1999, VelJohnson's career soldiered on. "I don't know what it is about me and this cop thing, but I get a lot of cop offers," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "Everyone always assumes that I'm someone on the force, but as long as they are paying me, I will play a cop until the day I die." 

VelJohnson is grateful for his sitcom success. "My years on Family Matters were precious to me," he said. "During the run of the show, I saw many births, deaths, weddings... The actual family on the show became my family. We still talk to each other to this day." 

John Goodman - Roseanne

Dan Conner, played by actor John Goodman, was a burly, hard-working, middle-class dad that did what it took to put food on the table for his family in Illinois. From 1988 to 1997, Goodman was front and center as an everyman on TV, and when the show ended after nine seasons, he forged a successful film career that includes big roles in films such as Argo, Flight, Trumbo and The Big Lebowski.

Goodman has dramatically changed his appearance since his days as a '90s dad. He dropped more than 100 pounds, telling People, "It takes a lot of creative energy to sit on your a** and figure out what you're going to eat next... I wanted to live life better." 

He's poised to make a return to the small screen. Roseanne is reportedly among the many '90s reboots heading back to TV, according to ABC News. "It's going to be all new turf. We were in our 40s when we left off," Goodman said. "I myself have applied for Medicare. We're going to have grandkids. It's just like a new life. I don't know what they're going to do, but I'm excited to try it this way." 

Charles Shaughnessy - The Nanny

Charles Shaughnessy will forever be the rich and charming father from The Nanny. For six seasons, Shaughnessy played Maxwell Sheffield, a distinguished man who brought balance and order to a household comprised of three kids and an eccentric nanny, played by Fran Drescher. 

When the show ended in 1999, Shaughnessy took on many projects, but few lived up to his Nanny days. More recently, he's been making waves on the soap opera beat, playing Shane Donovan in Days of Our Lives.

While his claim to fame may always be the sitcom, Shaughnessy doesn't think there's any need to recreate the original. "There's been talk about a stage musical. There's been talk about a revival series. There's been talk about a one-off limited show, like a Gilmore Girls-type thing," he said (via Radar Online.) "The whole concept of The Nanny is a nanny to these three kids. When those three kids are all grown up, there is no need for a nanny. Other than getting a bunch of the same actors 20 years later and 20 years older together again, I don't know how it would work."

Tim Reid - Sister, Sister

There is nothing Ray Campbell, played by Tim Reid, wouldn't do for his adopted twin daughters, Tamera Campbell and Tia Landry, played by real-life twins Tamera and Tia Mowry. The Sister, Sister storyline goes like this: Tamera and Tia are separated at birth and adopted by different families. When a chance encounter reunites the girls, Ray agrees to let Tia and her mom, Lisa Landry (Jackée Harry) move in with them. Reid was a firm father, pushing his daughters to do their best in school, but to have fun too...because it's the '90s. Duh! 

When the series concluded in 1999 after six seasons, Reid continued acting, though most of his work has been fairly low-key. He landed cameos in That '70s Show, Treme, and other projects. He's landed a promising role in the upcoming CBS comedy Me, Myself & I, reported Deadline in September 2017.

Off-screen, Reid and his wife, Daphne, have pursued philanthropic endeavors, launching the nonprofit Legacy Media Institute, which helps up-and-comers network with industry professionals. According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, Reid is a "fashion geek" who hosts an annual fashion show to raise money for the institute.

Patrick Duffy - Step by Step

Patrick Duffy starred in Step by Step, an updated version of The Brady Bunch, from 1991 to 1998. The hit show was part of the TGIF line up on ABC, and his character, Frank Lambert, was a hard working construction worker raising three kids on his own. He meets single-mom Carol, played by Suzanne Somers, who has three kids of her own. They fall in love, move in together, and the rest is '90s sitcom history.

When the show ended, Duffy kept busy, starring in Dallas and The Bold and the Beautiful. That's great, but what we really want to know: will a reboot of Step by Step hit TV screens soon? 

Maybe! Dishing on Reddit (via E! News), Duffy said he keeps in touch with his former cast members. "We all were a very close and loving family off-camera," he told fans, "and if the idea and the script was correct, I'm sure (speaking for myself and Suzanne because we've discussed it) we would be more than happy to resurrect the Lambert family." 

Bob Saget - Full House

Danny Tanner, played by Bob Saget, became one of America's most well known TV dads during eight seasons of Full House. When the sitcom ended in 1995, Saget pursued stand-up comedy, directing, writing, and, of course, his popular hosting gig on America's Funniest Home Videos.

What's been most surprising about Saget's post-'90s-dad career: his raunchy comedic style, which the Tanner family never could have stomached. Saget talked about his stand-up routine with the Chicago Tribune in 2015. "I'd be in some casino in Vegas and I'd just do my comedy as I had always done, and people would go, 'Wait a minute! That's not the guy from the thing!'"

It was and it is. A 61-year-old Saget made headlines anew in 2017 with his 38-year-old girlfriend, Kelly Rizzo, who leads the streaming series Eat Travel Rock. "I didn't think I'd have a relationship again," he told Closer Weekly (via Yahoo), "I was kind of in that 'just work, make people happy and take care of your kids until they're 90' mindset. She's a remarkable person, and she's really talented."

Ed O'Neill - Married with Children

Ed O'Neill in Married with Children was sexist, mean, and yet, somehow, kind-hearted. For a whopping 11 years, he played the unforgettable shoe salesman and father-of-two, Al Bundy. 

When the show ended in 1997, O'Neill found success with Dragon Net and Finding Dory, but his most notable role to date is one that casts him as another gruff but soft-centered father. He's become synonymous with his character, Jay Pritchett, on the long-running, Emmy-winning Modern Family.

In 2015, O'Neill made headlines off-screen for an authentic fatherly flub. As the story goes, he was boarding a flight a woman approached him for a photo. He obliged, thinking the lady was just another fan. Come to find out, it was Britney Spears, as in the Britney Spears. O'Neill had no idea. He told the embarrassing story to talk show host Ellen DeGeneres (via People): "You know, my daughter, Sophia, she said, 'You are a moron.'" Or just another dad.