This week, we mourned the loss of an incredibly influential and recognizable actor who impacted our lives for many years: James Avery. While he played many different characters in his career, "Uncle Phil" from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" is widely considered his most beloved. "Fresh Prince," though it only ran for six seasons, subsequently made cult status with syndication continuing to this day and remains a generational conversation starter.
In honor of Mr. Avery, we present to you a list of our top five favorite TV uncles.
5. Uncle Fester
At first glance, Uncle Fester's hairless, hunched appearance with his Manson-lamp eyes might make you rethink your genetics and run screaming, but given enough time with this uncle, you'd come around.
Fester's parlor tricks with electricity and magnetism are a crowd-pleaser. His gentle nature and panache for entertaining activities, like going fishing with dynamite, would delight any child.
VERDICT: WEIRD, FUNNY UNCLE
4. Uncle Leo
We all have an uncle that's between jobs, or as they like to call it an "entrepreneurial spirit." That's because he's so "creative" with his "finances" when it comes to "paying bills." You'll notice a lot of quotation marks around this uncle and his behavior because he might not even be your uncle, officially. He's your "uncle."
But he'll always have funny stories to share. Beware of his offers to get in on the ground floor of a business.
VERDICT: THE PATHOLOGICAL UNCLE
3. Uncle Ben
I know. We're blurring the lines between comics, TV and film here, but he had to be mentioned. We aren't talking about the rice baron we all know and love. No. We mean the guardian of Peter Parker AKA Spiderman.
Uncle Ben, not unlike another uncle figure, Old Ben Kenobi, is the wise, older uncle who always had a great piece of advice for every occasion. SIXY YEAR OLD SPOILER ALERT: When he died, it changed Peter's life.
Modeled after Benjamin Franklin (allegedly), he played a pivotal role in Spiderman's mission and sense of justice.
VERDICT: THE WISE UNCLE
2. Uncle Jesse
He's the uncle we all wanted. Fun, playful and slightly irresponsible, Uncle Jesse is the pleasure-seeking adult that kids want in their lives. He has great hair and does a great Elvis impersonation. Jesse is the grown-up kid who acts becomes an adult when the moment calls for it.
His ineptness with kids only makes him cooler.
VERDICT: THE COOL UNCLE
1. Uncle Phil
Philip Banks was a trendsetter. Patriarch to the Banks family, and attorney living in a primarily white neighborhood, Uncle Phil was never discouraged by challenges or prejudice. A charitable man, Mr. Banks took in his nephew, Will, at his most vulnerable after his mother sent the young man from Philadelphia. As a father figure, businessman and father, Philip Banks defied harmful stereotypes of black fathers, and when he raised his voice, there was only one thing left to do: listen.
He laid down the law.
VERDICT: THE RESPONSIBLE, BADASS UNCLE
So, there you have it. These are our favorite TV uncles, so tell us yours!