Daniel Ernest "Danny" Tanner, portrayed by Bob Saget (and by John Posey in the unaired pilot), is a widowed father of three girls: Michelle, Stephanie, and D.J.. He is a co-host of Wake Up, San Francisco. Before that, he was a sportscaster. He is the brother-in-law of Jesse Katsopolis and has a best friend named Joey Gladstone. His wife, Pam, died in a car crash caused by a drunk driver. He is the adult protagonist.
Danny is the archetype of the "not-hip dad" or the "uncool" character. He sees himself as the "raddest, baddest" dad ever (which his daughters do not agree with him about at all). In episodes like "Ol' Brown Eyes" in season four or "To Joey, With Love" in season eight, he wants to show the others that he has the same coolness that Jesse has. In "Ol Brown Eyes", when Danny is dressed like a rock star, D.J. finds him to be very embarrassing.
Danny is also obsessed with cleaning, and wants to make sure there's no speck of dust, dirt, or mildew on anything he owns. His motto is, "Clean is good, dirt is bad." D.J. and Stephanie do not like cleaning as much as Danny thinks they do. Once, Stephanie had confessed that one Christmas, when she asked Santa for a cleaning tool, she did not know he would actually bring it to her. In the episode "Honey, I Broke the House", he even seems to care more about the mess that Stephanie made more than the fact that she drove Joey's new car through the kitchen wall. However, in the episode "The Trouble with Danny" in season five, he decided to find a balance between clean and dirty. In the episode "Joey Goes Hollywood", he revealed that his favorite scent is Lemon Pledge. He got Michelle to become his special helper on his "Christmas" (Spring cleaning), making her hope that he would be proud of her if she was very clean and tidy.
At times, Danny is overprotective of his daughters. He has a habit of spoiling Michelle and treating her like a baby. Stephanie also stated in the show that while she was talking to a boy, Danny saw that her shoelaces were untied and bent down to tie them for her. His excuse was that he didn't want her to trip, but Stephanie retorted to him that she did trip, over him.
He seems to have a lot of authority on his daughters. They are afraid of what his reactions are going to be like in the episode "The Hole-in-the-Wall Gang" in season four. In season two's "Joey Gets Tough", Danny teaches Joey about authority. Jesse, on the other hand, tends to conflict with Danny's authority figure like in "Please Don't Touch The Dinosaur" in season six or in "Fogged In" in season two.
Pam was Danny's wife. She died in a car crash shortly before the show starts. After her death, Danny has a hard time with dating other people. He eventually asks a girl out, and afterwards, explains to D.J. and Stephanie (when they ask about how their mom would feel about him dating someone else) that he and Pam talked a lot of things over, like what would happen if something happened to one of them. He said that their mother would be glad that he would be making a new friend.
Vicky Larson is Danny's girlfriend and brief fiancee. Vicky and Danny meet on the set of Wake Up, San Francisco while she is filling in for Becky, who is on maternity leave. At first when they meet, Danny is named Bachelor of the Month and gets a swelled head about so many girls wanting to go on dates with him. Vicky dislikes him for having so many dates in a short period of time, which is described by Vicky as "shallow". Danny then asks Vicky, on air, to go on a date with him. Having an audience watching, she accepts.
After their date,they give each other a short but sweet kiss, and that starts a steady relationship. They have some problems, like Vicky being offered a job in Chicago. She moves, and their relationship becomes harder over long-distance, even though they each visit each other once a month. Soon, Danny proposes to Vicky, and she says "yes." Before they could walk down the aisle, Vicky is offered her dream job, even farther away than Chicago—New York. Danny, saddened by this, tells her that it's over, saying, "I can't ask you to give up your dream, so I guess I'll have to give up mine."
Claire Mahan is the mother of Gia Mahan, one of Stephanie's close friends. They meet when Stephanie (unknowingly) goes to Gia's unsupervised make-out party. They get off to a rough start, with Danny blaming Claire for not knowing her daughter was hosting a party, but after softening up, he admits that he blamed her because he did not want to blame himself for not knowing Stephanie was going. They go out for coffee—explained by Stephanie to Gia that for people their age, going out for coffee is a date—and then start dating. This makes both Stephanie and Gia excited, believing they could possibly be sisters. However, after all this sister talk, Michelle feels left out and acts like the complete opposite of herself. She and Danny make up, and allows Claire and Danny to dance.
Cindy first meets Danny when he walks into her store with his laundry separated into four groups. They start dating, but Cindy's ten-year-old son, Rusty, gets in the way of that, trying to keep Danny and Cindy apart with pranks because he strongly believes that Cindy and her divorced partner will get back together and wants to keep Cindy away from any other men. After Danny tries to keep him from getting in trouble after pulling a prank on the entire Tanner family, Rusty starts to accept his mother's relationship.
- Danny wanted to be an Olympic high jumper and a maid when he was young
- He was the president of the glee club in High School
- Danny went to college on a billiards scholarship
- Bob Saget was the first choice to play Danny, but at the time when they needed to make a pilot, he was working on a (real-life) morning talk show, so John Posey filled in for him; then, when it was time to do the first episode, Saget was available
- The Tanner family and Joey never celebrated St Patrick's Day or Memorial Day at any point in their lives (Danny hated those holidays as a kid) .
- "Clean is good, dirt is bad." (his family motto)
- "Give me my kid." (said about Michelle, in "Our Very First Night")
- "El pollo loco." (episode: "El Problema Grande de D.J.")
- "Please make new friends." (said to D.J. [in reference to Kimmy Gibbler] in seasons 3–5)
- "Before it can soar like an eagle, the young baby bird must stumble and fall." (in "Making Out is Hard to Do")
- "Well, just remember when children seem the least lovable, it means they need love the most." (in "Making Out is Hard to Do")
- "What?! You've only known each other for three months! ...What took you so long, son?" (said to Steve Hale in "Radio Days")