Television Heroes

I’ve done a list of my favorite literary heroes, but never of favorite tv heroes. Silly me! Lately I’ve been looking at the rather disparate list of characters I love on tv, and trying to figure out what it is about them that draws me – whether there is one common theme, or if I like each for completely different reasons. So then, naturally, I decided to blog about it.

Here, then, is my list of top five television heroes, with one thrown in as a bonus at the end.

Chakotay (Star Trek: Voyager):  Carl and I recently started re-watching the Voyager series (re-watching for me, first time for him – true love!), and I was astounded to discover that it was nowhere near as awesome as I remembered from when I was watching it as a teenager. I mean, the basis is awesome, and the acting is brilliant, but the writing, oh the writing. It’s pretty much “The Janeway Show,” and none of the other characters really get much development until Seven-of-Nine shows up. Then it’s the “Janeway and Seven Show.” And that sucks, because really, it could have been so amazing. And Chakotay was one of the most amazing characters on it. A basically kind, gentle man with enormous compassion and such strong ethics, forced by his principles into a life of violence. So much conflict in him, and clashing loyalties, and his rarely-seen but wickedly delightful sense of humor … yeah, even after all these years, and even with the major issues I now see with Voyager, Chakotay is still one of my all time favorite television heroes.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs (NCIS): Ah, Gibbs. I knew I loved him from the moment I heard his preferred method of dealing with politicians was to shoot them (actually, that’s his preferred method of dealing with most people, come to think of it). Taciturn, rude, terrible people skills … Gibbs still manages to win the hearts and loyalty of those who work with him. Probably because along with all those negative traits, he’s also fiercely loyal to his people, protective, deeply loving, and almost always right. The NCIS team really is like one big family, and Gibbs is unquestionably the father-figure to them all (well, aside from Ducky, who is most definitely the eccentric great-uncle of the clan). If I were ever in mortal danger, it’s Special Agent Gibbs I’d want protecting me.
Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly): I hate to admit that I was kind of on the fence regarding Mal at first. It wasn’t until the end of the episode “Safe” that I made up my mind on him. When Simon was asking him why Mal came back for Simon and River, Mal says “You’re my crew.” “Yeah, but you don’t even like me,” Simon pointed out. “You’re my crew,” Mal said blankly. “Why are we still talking about this?” And that’s when I fell irrevocably in love (not really, Carl). I love Mal’s stubborn loyalty, the fact that he will do anything at all to protect his people, whether he likes them or not. The fact that he never, ever gives up, even when he is utterly beaten just adds to his endearing qualities. As someone whose stubbornness goes far beyond reasonable limits (be quiet, Carl), I like seeing that portrayed as a good quality in fictional characters.
Carson Beckett (Stargate: Atlantis): It is entirely possible that much of my fondness for Carson is influenced by his adorable Scottish accent, along with his habit of calling people “son” or “love” or even “wee man” (that last one delivered with killing sarcasm). Mostly why I like him, though, is for his Everyman qualities. In a company made up of scientists, military persons, and administrators, Carson is the one normal guy (though a perfectly brilliant MD in his own right), the one who genuinely cares for everyone, who treats each person as an important individual, who is never too busy with his own tasks to take the time out for others. He’s perfectly sweet, and did I mention the Scottish accent?
The Tenth Doctor (Doctor Who): The Ninth Doctor was my first introduction to the show. I’m still tremendously fond of him, but oh, the Tenth Doctor. That unique blend of remarkable kindness and ruthlessness, compassion and cold-bloodedness … not to mention his delightful sense of humor, his zest for life. His occasional rudeness, usually followed by sheepishness at having been rude adds to his charm. And his loneliness just breaks my heart. Weep, weep! If Gibbs is the person I most want to have my back if I’m in danger, the Tenth Doctor is the one I think would be the most fun to have around when I’m in peril. Even if he caused much of that peril to begin with.
And the promised bonus: Sherlock Holmes, my dream husband.

I expected to like Watson best in the latest BBC adaptation of Sherlock. On the surface, I do like him best. Sherlock is an egotistical maniac, cold-hearted and quite thoroughly amoral, self-described as a “high-functioning sociopath.”

And yet … it was Sherlock that I dreamed was my husband (literally – I dreamed Carl and Sherlock were the same person). It was quite a friendly dream, actually – Sherlock/Carl, John Watson and myself, solving a mystery together, the two of them totally in character, nothing racy or anything I’d be embarrassed to have my mother read on this blog. Sherlock/Carl and I just happened to be quite happily married, as well. And somehow, every time I watch the show, I find myself more drawn to him. No idea why. I’ve quit trying to analyze that one.

“John, stop chattering on this phone – the game’s afoot!”

So, in looking over this list, describing the characters, I am indeed seeing a pattern. Ruthlessness when necessary, compassion and kindness, fierce loyalty and protectiveness toward “their” people, and a wry sense of humor. Not exactly the dashing, noble hero of traditional fiction, nor even the typical anti-hero such as Han Solo or Jack Sparrow … but it works for me. And also explains a lot of the hero-characters I find myself writing!

Who are some of your favorite tv heroes, and why?

Disclaimer: I really don’t watch a whole lot of tv. So I’m sure there are some fabulous characters out there that I just haven’t discovered. If I left your favorites off, it’s not necessarily because I don’t like them! 


Disclaimer #2: I know there aren’t any female characters on here. I’m going to do a post later on with favorite tv female characters. I’m not sure why I separated them, except that maybe that helps me squeeze two posts out of this topic instead of one? Or maybe that it’s so much harder to find strong female leads on tv (which is a post in and of itself, but not one that I think I’m fit to tackle), so it’s going to take me a bit longer to figure out five that I really love as much as I love the five mentioned here. But I’ll get there eventually!

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16 thoughts on “Television Heroes

  1. I think those are the same reason why I love Nathan's character in Castle. Everything I love in a character! His relationship with his mom and daughter, his humor, his love for Becket!

  2. I have GOT to get the first season of Castle from our library. I've heard so much good about it, but I hate jumping in to a show a few seasons in without having watched at least the first season.

  3. Captain Mal's on my list, too. I was just mentioning to someone yesterday, I've had a bunch of dreams where he's MY captain (possibly because I've always identified with Kaylee?), and a very good captain he is. I've also had one dream where Nathan Fillon was playing Ford Prefect (no surprise who was playing Arthur Dent); and one where he was there, being himself, talking with my friend's husband about fonts used in these ironwork hanging things, and then he wanted me to get on the computer to find the right font or something, but he very patronizingly tried to man'splain the computer to me, and then he just typed in a website of a page proclaiming his Awesomeness and just stood there grinning smugly like "See? It says I'm awesome," and really, I didn't know what to think about that. This whole thing came up yesterday when someone posted that they'd had a geeky dream about Nathan Fillon, but really, I've got her well beat on geeky dreams about Nathan Fillon…I've never actually MADE a list of my TV heroes. It may be more of my favorite TV characters, because I don't know how heroic most of my favorites are. Who are you missing that I'd include? Well John Watson obviously :). Fox Mulder (Dana Scully is totally at the top of my TV Heroines list, too). Eh, I give up. I've often thought that if I was making a favorite TV characters list I'd combine it with Movie characters. I think I have more of them.

  4. Everyone – here and on FB – has been raving about the awesomeness of Fillion as Mal and as Castle. Those are, in fact, the ONLY sort of comments I've gotten (honestly, I was at least expecting someone else to swoon over the Tenth Doctor with me), which I find intriguing. Something about his characters really does speak to everyone, I guess.I only ever watched a couple episodes of the X-Files, so I have no opinion on Mulder or Scully.I thought about making this just a top favorite tv characters list, but it would get really long, then. And since I do seem to return to the theme of heroism a lot here on this blog, I figured I was safe with sticking with heroes (and heroines eventually).

  5. My sig other LOVED Malcolm Reynolds character! (I think he had a man-crush on him – ha!)Let's see… I would add David Dochovny's Fox Mulder character from The X-Files. And just to take a walk down memory lane a little further, maybe even Don Johnson's Sonny Crockett character from the old Miami Vice.

  6. I think my husband would appreciate Wash more than Mal … but he's never watched Firefly, so that's only a guess.I think I'm going to have to add The X-Files to my list of "shows I need to watch someday." I hear so much good stuff about it!Never seen Miami Vice, either. Shockingly lax, I know!

  7. Ooooh! Now I want you to watch X-Files! We had a marathon of the entire show for several months right after Sam was born– it really is a very well-done show (though, like all shows, there are a few stinkers– and you might as well skip the last season. Some people say skip the last TWO seasons, but I rather liked season 8– but 9 you can just skip). It is neat watching in order, from the first episode where they meet, to see the characters develop over time. I think it is one of my favorite shows ever, but maybe that just happens when you watch a great marathon of 9 seasons in order…

  8. completely agree with you about Gibbs (altho I must admit I've also become fonder of Dinozzo), Carson (who doesn't like a Scottish accent?), and Mal. I'll let you know about the Doctor; I just started to watch :)

  9. I like the way DiNozzo's character has developed over the last several years. It's been nice seeing him grow and change while still keeping the same Tony charm.I hope you love the Doctor!

  10. I hate to say that the only show I've watched that you've mentioned is NCIS. My favorite characters are Abby and McGee–but the writers haven't done much character development on them lately. :(

  11. I kinda want to BE Abby when I grow up. I love her. And McGee has developed so much since his first introduction – but you're right, not much this season; it's been more about DiNozzo. And what is up with them throwing that huge curveball at Abby early in the season and then never going anywhere with it? I'm still frustrated over that. Hopefully next season that will get some more play.

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