Jeff Weddell/The CW; ABC/Bonnie Osborne; Barbara Nitke/FOX
Some of the best families — biologically related or not — on TV are messy.
Take, for instance, MacGyver. Angus (Lucas Till) and his family would easily have counted as one of the most complicated on TV ... until both his father, James, a.k.a. fellow operative Oversight (Tate Donovan), and his aunt Gwendolyn Hayes (Jeri Ryan), who was heading up the villainous group Codex, died. And Fox's fall offering, Filthy Rich — in which, following the patriarch's (Gerald McRaney) death, his family learns he had three other children and included them in his will — would fit the bill as well.
At least one character's life is hanging in the balance, while others aren't in the best places psychologically.
But while we wait for our favorites to return to our TV screens, we're rounding up the families that keep us glued to our seats with their drama, darkness, secrets, and more, from Council of Dads to Prodigal Son. (Often times, all of those things are why we love these families.)
A Million Little Things
Throughout the first part of Season 2, Delilah (Stephanie Szostak) refused to tell her kids that their newest sibling wasn’t their father Jon’s (Ron Livingston), but his best friend Eddie’s (David Giuntoli), from their affair. Eddie and his wife, Katherine (Grace Park), newly reconciled, fought her on it, until she gave in, and not everyone took it well. But by the finale, everyone was on the same page and making it all work (quite successfully). That doesn’t mean it isn’t complicated to explain to anyone on the outside looking in.
Shane Harvey/The CW
Kate Kane may be gone in Season 2 following Ruby Rose’s departure and the decision to replace, not recast, Batwoman, but the familial relationships are still quite complicated even without her. (It does, however, eliminate the father hunting the daughter, not realizing she’s the one in the cape.) Jacob (Dougray Scott) is still trying to stop his other daughter, Beth-turned-villainous-Alice (Rachel Skarsten), and he and his stepdaughter, Mary (Nicole Kang), were on opposite sides when she defended Batwoman to him. That’s not to mention Mary and Alice’s relationship as stepsisters, considering Alice killed Mary’s mother, and with Kate gone, we should hopefully get much more between those two going forward.
Seth F. Johnson/NBC
Council of Dads
One that shows that biology doesn’t matter, the NBC drama began with the Perrys losing their patriarch, Scott (Tom Everett Scott), to cancer, but he had three of his friends — Oliver (J. August Richards), Anthony (Clive Standen), and Larry (Michael O’Neill) — step in to form the council. But that’s not what makes it complicated (it’s why we love it). Luly (Michele Weaver), whom Scott thought was biologically his, is actually Anthony’s daughter with Scott’s ex, Michelle (Sharon Leal) … and that secret has yet to come out.
Martin Whitly (Michael Sheen) was arrested for his crimes as the serial killer the Surgeon in 1998, after his son Malcolm (Tom Payne) called the police. Jump forward to present-day, and Malcolm (now using the last name Bright) joined the NYPD to catch serial killers, with a little help from Martin at times. And while the former FBI profiler was worried about becoming like his father, it was his sister, Ainsley (Halston Sage), who followed in the killer’s footsteps, brutally murdering deceptively charming and very, very bad Nicholas Endicott (Dermot Mulroney). Martin’s reaction upon hearing this? A very proud “my girl.”
In the wake of her father, Captain Pruitt Herrera (Miguel Sandoval), sacrificing himself to save her and other firefighters trapped in a fire, Andy (Jaina Lee Ortiz) began second-guessing everything she knew about him and her late mother. It culminated in the finale ending, in which Andy found her mother, alive. Why did her father lie? What can and can’t she believe about what he told her about her mother? Why hasn’t her mother tried to contact her? Whatever the answers, it’s going to be messy.
So far, we can only go by what we’ve heard about the parents of private investigator Dex Parios (Cobie Smulders) and her brother Ansel (Cole Sibus). They took off when Dex was overseas and left Ansel, who has Down syndrome, in a home. According to Dex’s aunt, Maribel, they “had to leave and couldn’t come back.” But in the last moment of the Season 1 finale, Dex found her mother at the door. She has quite a bit of explaining to do, and the conversations to come aren’t going to be easy.
Jeff Weddell/The CW
As hunter Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver) said, “Family don’t end with blood,” and Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester’s (Jensen Ackles) family has grown (and lost members) over the years. In its final season, it includes angel Castiel (Misha Collins), who has been their enemy before, and nephilim Jack (Alexander Calvert), who, while soulless, killed the brothers’ mother, Mary (Samantha Smith).
This Is Us
We love the Pearsons, but we also know that they’re not perfect. They love and they fight just like any other family. Plus, depending on the decade, they may or may not be in each other’s lives. For example, Rebecca (Mandy Moore) eventually moved on from her husband Jack’s (Milo Ventimiglia) death with his best friend Miguel (Jon Huertas), but it’s Jack’s brother Nicky (Griffin Dunne) at her bedside in the future. In the present, Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) disagree about a treatment for their mother Alzheimer’s, and depending on what year it is, the brothers may or may not be in touch with their sister Kate (Chrissy Metz). And let’s not forget about Kevin’s future kids, whose mother, Madison (Caitlin Thompson), is Kate’s best friend.