Six Of The Most Admirable Characters On Television by Alex Lawless

TV shows frequently bring us characters that we’d like to be friends with, that we’d like to go home with, or that we’d just like to punch in the testicles. Occasionally, we find characters that inspire us to become better people, and that exemplify the very traits we’d like to see in ourselves. Here’s a list of some of the most admirable characters on television:

Jack Donaghy, 30 Rock

Who he is: Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming for General Electric, Liz Lemmon’s boss, friend, and occasional life coach.

Why you should admire him: I could probably write an entire article on why Jack Donaghy is Totally Badass, with reason #1 being that he once drove a car into the Hudson just to practice escaping. Jack is a Real Man, from the way he believes tuxedos are always suitable evening attire (“It’s after six. What am I, a farmer?”), to the way he speaks as though he’s never concerned about being interrupted, to the way he sometimes takes his less socially adept employees under his wing.  Like any good boss, Jack knows when to care and when to scare.

Memorable quotes:

Lemon: "Nice to have some positive reinforcement, isn't it?"
Jack: "Well, it's only positive reinforcement when they say it to you. In my case they're just stating the facts. I do look like the Arrow shirt man, I did lace up my skates professionally and I did do a fabulous job finishing my muffin."

Jack: Once I set my mind on something I have to accomplish it. 10 years ago I was one and a half inch shorter than I am today. Pure will-power.

Coach Taylor, Friday Night Lights

Who he is: The head football coach for the Dillon Panthers, and then the Dillon Lions, Coach Taylor is responsible for turning your slack-jawed teenage son into a respectable, scholarship-attracting manly-man.

Why you should admire them: There’s a reason that his nickname is the “Kingmaker”. Eric Taylor is a molder of men, a wonderful father, and the best high school football coach in Texas (possibly the country). Coach Taylor can do no wrong, and he’s not interested in your whining, or your goddamn attitude, or your pathetic excuse for a forward pass. He knows exactly what to say and when it’s time to say it. And when it’s better to take tricycle handlebars to someone’s taillights.

Memorable quotes:

“What the hell, you want a hug or something? Get out of here.”

“All right, listen up. I’m supposed to give you some fatherly and wise advice at this time in your life. Listen up, if you’re wondering if a boy’s thinking about you, he’s not. He’s thinking about sex or he's hungry, those are the only two options.”

Tami Taylor, Friday Night Lights

Who she is: The Coach’s wife, as well as the guidance counsellor/Principal at East/West Dillon High. She is responsible for getting you into college, out of that abusive relationship, and contributing at least 90% of the show’s use of the world “y’all”.

Why you should admire her: She’s sassy and kind even when she’s dealing with the most difficult teenager or obnoxious characters (Julie Taylor and Buddy Garritty, I’m looking at you), and she always has a smile and a well placed “y’all” ready to soften the fact that she’s manipulating the crap out of you. The woman cares about every single person she comes across, and could charm the pants off of them if she wanted to. There is never a moment when she doesn’t know exactly what to say, and her intentions are always the best.

Memorable quotes:

Tim: “What’s the big deal?”
Tami: “The big deal is it's part of my job, to make sure that you don't grow up stupid. It's bad for the world.”

“There is no weaknees in forgiveness.”

Leslie Knope, Parks & Recreation

Who she is: The Deputy Director of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation department, Leslie is responsible for turning the Sullivan Street Pit death trap into a lovely community park, the Harvest Festival, and making you forget why you need those anti-depressants. 

Why you should admire her: There is nothing not to love about this woman. Although initially introduced as essentially the love child of Michael Scott and Elle Woods, Amy Poeller has created an endearingly optimistic and competent character. Her insane enthusiasm for public service, not to mention her ambition (to become the first female President of the United States), result in actual accomplishments within the otherwise apathetic bureaucracy.

Memorable quotes:

“The bankrupt government of Pawnee has been shut down all summer so it's been three months of no work, no meetings, no memos, no late nights, nothing. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.”

“These people are members of the community that care about where they live. So what hear when I'm being yelled at is people caring ... loudly at me.

John Casey, Chuck

Who he is: Colonel John Casey is an NSA operative assigned to protect the Intersect (Chuck Bartoski) by posing as a salesman at the local BuyMore. A huge Reagan fan and gun-crazed Republican, Casey is the character you shouldn’t love as much as you do.

Why you should admire him: Under his gruff and extremely well sculpted exterior, Casey has a very stringent sense of honour. Despite the aggravation Chuck causes him, at the end of the day, Casey can’t terminate Chuck even when he’s ordered too. And isn’t that really what we all look for in a friend?

Memorable quotes:

Chuck: “I have very sensitive sinuses.”
Casey: “Well 9mm of hot lead should clear that right out!”

Casey [hands Chuck a red rose]: “Aren't you forgetting something, Romeo?”
Chuck: “Oh, of course. Let me guess, this is equipped with some kind of microscopic, infrared tracking device that determines... her mother's Communist affiliations?”
Casey: “No, idiot. It's so you can get laid.”

Barney Stintson, How I Met Your Mother

Who he is: More like what he is. And that would be awesome

Why you should admire him: If Barney existed in real life, everyone would hate him. But on television, not only is he comedic gold, it’s hard not to (sometimes) want to be a little bit more like him. He’s smooth, he’s confident, and he is king of having a good time, and making sure others have it too (multiple times…). Despite his griping about his friends and the ridiculousness of true love, Barney is a friend that will go to lengths others won’t. He flies to San Francisco with a ticket for Lilly when she’s too proud to come home, and he felt terrible about betraying Ted (and the Bro Code) when he developed feelings for Robin. Who wouldn’t want to be a little more legen—wait for it…

Memorable quotes:

“When I get sad, I stop being sad, and be AWESOME instead. True story.”

“Think of me like Yoda, but instead of being little and green I wear suits and I’m awesome. I’m your bro—I’m Broda!”

Photo: Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton in Friday Night Lights

Alex Lawless is an Ottawa based writer/slacker whose awesomeness knows no bounds. She blogs sporadically at Just Be Awesome Instead and has forgotten the name of her twitter account.


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