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Special-Needs TV

TV Series Featuring Characters or Performers With Disabilities

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A big part of raising awareness and acceptance for people with disabilities is making their stories part of popular culture. Check my list of TV series that have regularly featured characters or performers with special needs, and add a review of these or other shows I've missed.

Alphas

Ryan Cartwright
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Show: Alphas
Network: SyFy
On the Air: 2011-2012
Character of Interest: Gary Bell (Ryan Cartwright), a young man with autism whose abilities as a "human antenna" make him valuable to a crime-fighting team of people with extraordinary abilities.

The Big Bang Theory

Jim Parsons
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Show: The Big Bang Theory
Network: CBS
On the Air: 2007-
Character of Interest: Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), a theoretical physicist and all-around quirky fellow thought by many viewers to have Asperger syndrome.

Bones

Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Show: Bones
Network: FOX
On the Air: 2005-
Character of Interest: Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan (Emily Deschanel), a forensic anthropologist who looks to a lot of viewers like a person with Asperger syndrome.

Breaking Bad

RJ Mitte
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Show: Breaking Bad
Network: AMC
On the Air: 2008-
Character of Interest: Walter White, Jr. (RJ Mitte), son of the chemistry teacher turned meth maker, who like the actor who plays him has cerebral palsy.

The Bridge

Diane Kruger
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Show: The Bridge
Network: FX
On the Air: 2013-
Character of Interest: Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger), an El Paso police detective with Asperger syndrome.

Covert Affairs

Christopher Gorham
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Show: Covert Affairs
Network: USA
On the Air: 2010-
Character of Interest: Auggie Anderson (Christopher Gorham), a blind CIA analyst who's a tech whiz, a sidekick for the newbie agent played by Piper Perabo, and a chick magnet.

Criminal Minds

Matthew Gray Gubler
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Show: Criminal Minds
Network: CBS
On the Air: 2005-
Character of Interest: Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler), eccentric and multiple-degree-holding member of the team that profiles serial killers and other dangerous criminals.

Glee

Glee Cast 2
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Show: Glee
Network: Fox
On the Air: 2009-
Characters of Interest: Artie Abrams (Kevin McHale), a glee-club member who uses a wheelchair; Becky Jackson (Lauren Potter), a cheerleader with Down syndrome.

Grey's Anatomy

Mary McDonnell
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Show: Grey's Anatomy
Network: ABC
On the Air: 2005-
Character of Interest: Dr. Virginia Dixon (Mary McDonnell), a cardiac surgeon with Asperger syndrome who appeared in several episodes of the series' sixth season.

King and Maxwell

Ryan Hurst
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Show: King and Maxwell
Network: TNT
On the Air: 2013-
Character of Interest: Edgar Roy (Ryan Hurst), described on the show's site as "a high-functioning autistic savant who specializes in patterns and numerical sequences."

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