When it comes to stories of brothers, TV has given us some of the best examples of brotherly love – and, yes, sometimes big-time rivalry. On sitcoms, we’ve seen the almost idyllic Cleaver brothers of Leave it to Beaver, the always-fighting-but-always-sticking-up-for-each-other brothers of Malcolm in the Middle, and the “I’m-only-putting-up-with-you-because-we’re-brothers” pair of Two and a Half Men. Westerns gave us officially-half-brothers-but-who-cares Cartwrights on Bonanza. Brothers fight crime on Numb3rs and demons on Supernatural.
While many series have featured families of both boys and girls, I’m concentrating on the ones where boys rule. They’re each other’s best friends and, sometimes, worst enemies. It’s a dynamic we see time and again – and we continue to enjoy it. Here are some of my favorites. I hope you’ll find some of yours, too.
Bonanza  (Pernell Roberts, Dan Blocker, Michael Landon)
Frasier  (Kelsey Grammer, David Hyde Pierce)
The Hardy Boys  (Parker Stevenson, Shaun Cassidy)
Here Come the Brides  (Robert Brown, David Soul, Bobby Sherman)
Leave It to Beaver  (Tony Dow, Jerry Mathers)
Malcolm in the Middle  (Christopher Kennedy Masterson, Justin Berfield, Frankie Muniz, Erik Per Sullivan)
My Name is Earl  (Jason Lee, Ethan Suplee)
My Three Sons  (Tim Considine, Don Grady, Stanley Livingston, and later, Barry Livingston)
Numb3rs  (Rob Morrow, David Krumholtz)
Royal Pains  (Mark Feuerstein, Paulo Costanzo)
The Sacketts  (Sam Elliott, Tom Selleck, Jeff Osterhage)
Supernatural  (Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles)
Two and a Half Men  (Charlie Sheen, Jon Cryer)
Wings  (Timothy Daly, Steven Weber)
Honorable mention: Maverick  (James Garner, Jack Kelly) – Although the actors played brothers Bret and Bart Maverick, they rarely interacted. Instead, each episode featured one or the other, though there were a few where the brothers would team up. Still, they were brothers who had each other’s backs – whenever they chanced to meet.