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Best characters in AI on TV: 2010-2015

Updated on May 26, 2015

AI characters

Ever notice that, when watching science fiction in general on TV, and especially when watching science fiction about artificial intelligence, the characters are almost an afterthought? Even though a show can have a great "big idea" and maybe even some decent acting, if the characters themselves are flat, they can be a big distraction from the rest of the show. Here are a few shows with great characters.

Almost Human

Karl Urban (Scotty from the new Star Trek movies, also in Xena back in the day) plays extremely well off of his partner, Dorian (played really, really well by Michael Ealy). Ealy is an android cop assigned to be Urban's partner, in spite of Ealy's tendency to have strong emotions and erratic behavior.

I tend to grade TV shows about artificial intelligence based on three criteria:

  1. The "big idea"
    Almost Human's "big idea" is that humans and androids will be working together in the near future (around 2050) and that androids will be second nature, normal things we'll see every day. I agree with his vision, although as "big ideas" go, it's no Battlestar Galactica. The idea is a fairly old one, although it works well in this format.
  2. Production
    This show is really well produced. The effects are among the best on any sci-fi TV shows today, and the cinematography is excellent. The episodes also flow really well, a product of good writing.
  3. Acting
    This is what sets "Almost Human" apart from nearly all other sci-fi shows currently (or, sadly, recently, rather) airing on television, including the also recently canceled "Intelligence" (whose big idea is considerably better than that of "Human"). Dorian and Kennex (Urban's character) really irk one another in a hilarious and believable way, and each plays on the strength of the other in order to get their job done. They're an extremely likable pair. The "mad scientist" type inventor dude is also really great.

If you enjoy TV shows about AI, there's a great chance you'll really enjoy "Almost Human." It was one of my favorites last year.

Other good TV available today about AI and the singularity.


Although Lost co-star Josh Holloway (Sawyer on Lost) stars in the lead role, and his "bodyguard", played by Meghan Ory, is put in charge of taking care of Holloway, these two are not the most entertaining characters on the show by any stretch.

  1. The big idea
    Holloway has a "chip" in his brain (brain augmentation) and is constantly connected to the Internet, having access to all the world's information in the blink of an eye (well, faster... at the speed of light.

  2. Production
    The production of "Intelligence" is actually really good. There are good effects and explosions and things of that nature, and there's even another augmented human who is able to sort of "mind meld" with Holloway in semi-holographic scenes (virtual reality simulations). These scenes are well done.

  3. Acting
    If you came here to listen to how awesome of an actor Josh Holloway is, you're in the wrong place. However, the scientist father and son duo played by John Billingsly and PJ Byrne, respectively, are awesome and hilarious. They bring a certain lively fun to the show that would otherwise be missing, and make it well worth watching.

Did you enjoy "Almost Human"?

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Person of Interest

Somehow, miraculously, Person of Interest has been renewed for a fourth season, and I was super duper happy. Jim Caviezel is billed as the main character, but in reality, as per usual with sci fi on TV, this is not necessarily the case. This show features strong AI (artificial general intelligence) and tons of great action.

  1. The big idea
    This, to me, sets POI apart from all other shows currently on TV. There's a "machine" created by Harold Finch (Michael Emerson), and it is capable of figuring out crimes that are about to happen. I don't want to give too much away, so I'll stop here, but suffice it to say it gets really interesting.
  2. Production
    POI has excellent production. JR Abrams produced it, so it has a certain big city style about it (that, and it takes place in NYC).
  3. Acting
    Again, Jim Caviezel isn't really the star. When computer nerd Root gets on board in season 2 (Amy Acker), things start to really heat up (and she is easy on the eyes, which helps). The aforementioned Michael Emerson (Benjamin Linus from "Lost") and Sarah Shahi (the most attractive female hitman in history) play off one another in a very entertaining fashion.

I really, really enjoy Person of Interest.


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