Ten Fish Out of Water Style Television Characters

10 Fish Out of Water Characters

THE ODD...THEY CAN APPEAR TO BE LOST AT SEA
THE ODD...THEY CAN APPEAR TO BE LOST AT SEA | Source
WE FIND THE ODD PERSON OUT FASCINATING
WE FIND THE ODD PERSON OUT FASCINATING | Source
It's not easy being human, especially when you know people who would rather not be.
It's not easy being human, especially when you know people who would rather not be. | Source
Sherlock Holmes and the scientific method of catching crooks.
Sherlock Holmes and the scientific method of catching crooks. | Source
The tools of Sherlock Holmes' trade.
The tools of Sherlock Holmes' trade. | Source
Traditionally,  Moriarty, Holmes' nemesis, is male and into math and murder.
Traditionally, Moriarty, Holmes' nemesis, is male and into math and murder. | Source
In the television series Elementary we have a female Moriarty.
In the television series Elementary we have a female Moriarty. | Source
All sorts of women  have traveled at one time or another in the TARDIS.
All sorts of women have traveled at one time or another in the TARDIS. | Source
The Fifth Doctor Who didn't always have a peaceful time in  the TARDIS.
The Fifth Doctor Who didn't always have a peaceful time in the TARDIS. | Source
The Fifth Doctor Who was into cricket.
The Fifth Doctor Who was into cricket. | Source
A recent Doctor who did make an appearance at the Battle of Britain.
A recent Doctor who did make an appearance at the Battle of Britain. | Source

10 Fish Out of Water Characters by Rod Marsden

There have recently been new fish out of water types on television. In the series Breaking Bad you have a high school science teacher going into the making of illegal drugs and forming a partnership with a former drug addict student. The show centers around all the trouble they get into. The science teacher can usually think his way out of difficulties with drug peddlers and police. There will of course come a time when he won't be able to do so.

Another new show that has the element of the fish out of water is Being Human. This is about a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost setting up house with the hope of living as normal a life as possible. Of course there are outside forces that continually challenge them on this.

I was originally going to use the term idiot savant for this collection of odd but usually lovable characters but have changed my mind. The term doesn't quite fit whereas fish out of water comes closer to the mark. The characters I wish to deal with here are highly intelligent in certain aspects of their fictional lives but not terribly bright and somewhat wanting in other aspects. Many of them need minders to make sure they don't come to harm. Many of them are completely lost at sea when it comes to forming relationships but manage to do so anyway or the person they are with are so taken with their genius when they are the genius that the shortcomings don't seem to matter that much. I have decided upon 10 examples. I am sure there are many more.

1. Sherlock Holmes

This character created by novelist and short story writer Arthur Conan Doyle has appeared in many movies and a number of television shows. Always he is the master detective using logic and deductive reasoning to solve cases that even baffle Scotland Yard. Too often he is shown wearing the deerstalker cap. Doyle had him wearing this on very few occasions as something to be worn in the country but nowadays it seems to be a permanent part of his dress no matter where he is or what he is doing. Not meant to be an oddity it has definitely become one. So wearing a deerstalker cap everywhere is all it takes to be a fish out of water? No.

He is often isolated by his own genius. When he is not working on a case he can fall into clinical depression and into drug use. When he is not on a case he can be self-destructive and can require watching by Doctor Watson, his biographer and friend.

Holmes playing of the violin as a method of relaxation or of stirring up the gray cells in his brain might also be considered an oddity.

Holmes also has a hard time with compliments and with gratitude. He also finds the ladies a difficult issue. He cannot seem to show the warmth toward them he would sometimes like to show. Then again warmth of any sort toward anyone is rather a foreign concept to him and he would prefer to be embroiled in either scientific research or in solving a crime.

2. Doctor Who

Many writers have worked on not only the version that lasted on television for decades but also the latest more high tech version. Many men and one woman over the years have been the Doctor. Regardless, even with regeneration and new people taking what I still consider to be the best role in British television, some fundamentals about him remain.

He is not human. He has two hearts and he was born on another planet. He travels through both time and space. He may have a particular liking for earth and one of his ancestors may have been involved with an earthling in a physical sense so he may have earthling blood running through him, nevertheless he is an alien. He has technology far in advance of 20th ands 21st Century humanity.

He has protected humans from all sorts of alien creatures including the Daleks yet, despite human companions, he can be very lonely in his travels.

He doesn't always understand currency and may try to pay a restaurant bill on earth with currency or credits either from another planet or from earth's future.

He often needs companions to see things in another perspective and to communicate this other perspective to him. And he needs his companions in order not to fall into a sense of hopelessness about his lot in the universe.

3. Miss Marple

Agatha Christie's famous female detective has been on television in one form or another for many years. She is an old woman who has the ability to run rings around professional detectives with her powers of deductive reasoning. She looks harmless enough and there have been criminals who have taken her that way and at their own peril.She does, however, need people who are physically capable of doing so to make the arrest or arrests.

4. Hercule Poirot

Another creation that came from Agatha Christie's imagination, this fictional Belgium detective continues to enjoy his time on television. He works out of London and to an Englishman he looks to be quite the foreigner. In appearance he can be quite comical to the straight-laced but don't let his looks or his accent fool you. He is sharp and he will solve the case.He works with his little gray cells and not his fists. If an arrest is required it is best done by someone else.


5. Monk

Monk is a hypochondriac with mental issues that prevent him from rejoining the police force. He is chronically afraid of germs and only on very rare occasions will he shake hands with anyone. His food needs to be separated into a place on the plate for the meat and each of the vegetables. With him neatness counts to such an exaggerated extent that he can go into a room and see something out of order that even an experienced detective would not spot as being out of order. This is the prime way in which he solves cases as a private gumshoe. He needs a minder to look after him and generally keep him as sane as he can be. He had a break down when his wife died and he wants to find her killer and bring this killer to justice. He also wants to become well enough to return to the police force. Strangely enough, he has a brother who is worse than he is.

6. Rodney McKay

This is one of my all time favorite characters. He is a scientist who can be caustic with people, including fellow scientists, and has a low tolerance for other people's lack of scientific savvy. He can be self absorbed and selfish. He is also at times greedy. He can appear to be cowardly but when the chips are down he can be responsible for surprisingly brave acts. As a scientist he is a genius and as a human being he is somewhat lacking. He has difficulty connecting on a personal level with even his sister. He is attracted to women, especially blonds, but can be incredibly naive and shy. He came into existence as a minor character in Stargate SG1 and became a major character in Stargate Atlantis. We leave him in the last season of Stargate Atlantis with a pretty female doctor who, despite his faults, actually loves him. I, too, like to leave him that way. Whether or not he deserves the woman I like to see him in a healthy, happy relationship. Call me sentimental or maybe there's a little bit of Rodney McKay in all of us guys just waiting for a pretty female doctor to come along and sooth our wrinkled brows.

7. Klinger

This character will do anything to get out of the army including dress like a member of the opposite sex. MASH was a very popular show in its day and depicted the horrors of war in what originally was meant to be a comedy. Though set in Korea during the Korean War it reflected what was happening in Vietnam during its production. Klinger illustrated the fact that not every American soldier involved in the Korean War was in favor of being there and that at least one fictional GI would stop at virtually nothing to get out. The ways in which Klinger dressed to get out of the army boarded on genius. One episode he dressed up as the statue of liberty to hopefully impress General Douglas Macarthur with his kookiness and obvious unfitness to be in the armed services even in a MASH unit. One episode during a heat wave he donned furs just to prove how nuts he was. In another episode he decided to eat a jeep piece by piece in order to be sent home. He had to be watched at times since some of his stunts, if they went on too long, might get him killed.

8. Spok

The original Star trek would not have been the same without this half alien who values logic over emotion. Though Captain Kirk is his best friend Uhura probably understands him best. They can communicate through music which, apparently to a half human, half Vulcan, has its own mysterious logic and beauty.

9. Patrick Jane

As the lead character in The Mentalist, Patrick Jane may be great at reading people and solving cases but he really does need a minder or two to stop the occasional someone from trying to punch his lights out. Sometimes his methodology does result in people, the innocent as well as the guilty, getting hot under the collar.

10. House

This is a doctor who doesn't like to see patients but is a genius when it comes to analyzing ailments. He works as the head of a team of doctors he often berates, confuses, confounds and annoys. He is the bad boy medic who delivers the goods. He had been a drug addict and is generally a miserable bastard who needs to share his misery with others. He has minders that try to keep him from self-destructing.



Well, that's my ten. I hope you liked the read.

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Comments 15 comments

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

My favorite are Spok, Miss Marple, and Patrick Jane.It is my personal quirk, being a mystery fan, that I am not crazy about portrayal of Holmes. However, he is an important prototype. Monk is overdone, I think.

Excellent hub.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 6 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia Author

Thank you for your comments dahoglund.


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Great collection - these really are people with no common sense. Of the modern group I would have to say House as I have seen that show the most - brilliant series. I do remember his drug addiction is based on Sherlock Holmes - though I am not sure. Idiot Savant wouldn't be wrong on some of these characters either.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 6 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia Author

Thanks billyaustindillon.

As for House and Holmes, they are both detectives in their own way and, as you have pointed out, they have both had their bouts with drugs. Both also seem to be better when they have work laid on. When bored both tend to be self-destructive. With House there is a medical mystery to solve every episode and it takes deductive reasoning with medical knowledge and often the process of elimination through tests until the proper diagnosis of the ailment, whatever it is, can be arrived at and proper treatment can begin. Holmes' methodology isn't quite the same but it is close enough. I would say you are right in your notion that House's past and possibly future drug addiction is based on Holmes.

I looked up a number of definitions of idiot savant before reluctantly ruling it out. If you have seen the movie Rain Man then you get the picture of what a true idiot savant is like. More minuses than pluses in the equation. The characters I have named are functional in many ways including the thing that makes them genius material. I believe Monk comes closest to the true idiot savant and that his brother is the real deal. The others are not as dysfunctional in ordinary society and can do better than just get by. Regardless, many of them need minders to keep them out of trouble.


hecate-horus profile image

hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

It's funny how I relate most of these characters, especially Rodney McKay. I'm no genius, but I tend to whine a bit :)


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia Author

Maybe not so funny hecate-horus since I too relate to them. I especially liked it when Rodney McKay got the girl. I suppose, in that respect, there is hope for us all.


limpet profile image

limpet 2 years ago from London England

Maybe not Spock as other Vulcans have since joined the Star Trek crew

Klinger was reputedly based on a real life celebrity but he wouldn't have lasted that long in the army anyway!

I'd suggest Peter Falk in the Columbo detective series.

Maxwell Smart in 'Get Smart'


limpet profile image

limpet 2 years ago from London England

Marilyn a completly normal young Lady was considered the 'odd one out' in the Munster's household but the Flying Nun may take the first prize overall.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 2 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia Author

Yes I liked the Flying Nun.


limpet profile image

limpet 2 years ago from London England

Rod we could just go on forever on this. BUT did you notice that most of those T.V. action heroes usually had a less heroic (some times enept) side kick to embellish their bravado.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 2 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia Author

Yes limpet. Sidekicks tend to be either that way or exotic meaning they come from some other culture. As for Spok, he is forever the fish out of water being only half Vulcan. He is not always acceptable among other Vulcans because he is half human. He has a difficult time with humans because of his Vulcan nature. As the series MASH continued Klinger gave up the dressing in women's clothes but continued to try various ways of getting out of the army.


limpet profile image

limpet 11 months ago from London England

Oh! What about My favourite Martian with Ray Walston as Uncle Martin and Bill Bixby as the exasperated nephew?


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 11 months ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia Author

My Favorite Martian was a very good show for its but not really fish out of water material.


limpet profile image

limpet 11 months ago from London England

Mork and Mindy? I maintain that Robin Williams was a 'fish out of water' in the majority of his character roles.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 11 months ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia Author

I agree with you about Mork and Mindy even though it wasn't a show I enjoyed. Yes. Robin Williams was a fish out of water in most of his roles. My favorite Robin Williams role is in the Australian animated feature Fern Gully. In it he was the voice of a bat that had been experimented upon by humans.

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