11 Most Enlightened Television Characters

Immanuel Kant best defines Enlightenment as 'The freedom to use one's own intelligence.' I was raised on television, and my frame of mind was formed by the lessons learned week after week. Smart, interesting and engaging characters on television set my moral fiber. This list of characters was created with a lot of research over the years. I had to watch nine seasons of Night Court just to get a character on this list.

#11 Lisa Simpson

The children are first on the list, and this little girl practices zen Buddhism. From Tai Chi to chai tea, Lisa Simpson can certainly see a situation from many points of view and even sacrifice her own needs for a greater good. This show has an advantage when it comes to character development since it's been running for 26 seasons, and the years have been kind to this kid who gets smarter and more aware every year.

#10 Dewey

This child overcame neglect and started raising himself. Sadly this kid had to nurture his own dreams in secret, but Dewey showed that he was the real genius in his family. Truly thinking for himself and using the information he's picked up from watching the failed lessons of his siblings and parents.

#9 Judge Harold T. Stone

This judicial magician was more than a goofball, he was a humanitarian who saw every point of view before ruling. Often the charges were dropped because people just don't talk it out anymore, and other times he could make the clown with the gun give up his hostages because of how mundane life is for everyone.

#8 Steven Keaton

This conscientious objector turned nuclear family man had the moral compass to raise all the children of the prime time audience members. He would have been higher on the list if it weren't for Nick, but even with the questions of who dates his kids, Steven was a reinforcement of what the family father should be.

#7 Cliff Huxtable

TV Dads are usually silly or bumbling, but there is nobody who can be Cosby. He was silly, insightful, loving and fair. His physical comedy combined with the lessons he was trying to teach his children was usually too insightful for television, but these lessons were the reason The Cosby Show was the highest rated show for years.

#6 Jed Bartlet

T.V. Dad is a little more metaphorical here, but The West Wing was always a little wiser when they had to talk to the boss. This character was created as the model for who we hope to look up to as a nation. The political storytelling was merely a device to make us better people in our minds as we look at the situations that can face our nation everyday.

#5 Chris Stevens

Chris was the voice of reason and wonder on Northern Exposure with his use of Socratic method to meditate verbally over the airwaves. His consciousness was pretty textbook...Bad boy finds meaning of life questions in a copy of zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. This was the defining attribute, and allowed for all the perspective that the characters of the series needed to grow and learn.

#4 Dale Cooper

Sleuthing was never more absurd, but his methods and techniques included intuitive rock throwing and using dream therapy to catch a killer. The views he had often baffled the town, but this was the dynamic of someone transcendent of the ordinary in a town that's full of mystery and absurdity.

#3 Stan Marsh

This kid has to keep a whole town in check on a regular basis. His speeches at the end of most episodes held the mirror up to his society so often, you would think he was the only one ever learning anything. It's often the contrast to his father Randy (who might be one of the most impulsive and neglectful parents on television) that we see just how smart Stan is by looking to his father and seeing the lesson easily learned.

#2 Jean Luc Picard

A true Leader, and never one to jump to conclusions with violence. This character was created with 17th century philosophy in mind. Phrases that I use in the supermarket..."I want that 1%"..."Tea, earl grey, hot." Anyone else do that, or is it just me?

#1 The Doctor

You have to be open minded when you travel through time and space. Some of the best stories are about simple misunderstandings, and even though he's not human he would also be number one humanitarian on this list considering how much he visits this planet.

Step right up and take your pick.

Who is your favorite on this list?

  • The Doctor
  • Jean-Luc
  • Stan Marsh
  • Dale Cooper
  • Chris Stevens
  • Jeb Bartlet
  • Cliff Huxtable
  • Steven Keaton
  • Judge Harold T. Stone
  • Dewey
  • Lisa Simpson
See results without voting

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