Social Question

Keysha's avatar

Do you know of any shows or movies that feature the main character as disabled?

Asked by Keysha (2622points) April 19th, 2010

There was an old tv series called Ironside. It featured an actor named Raymond Burr as a wheelchair-bound chief of detectives. He became a special consultant, and he was the main character.

Can you think of any other shows or movies that did this?

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54 Answers

alive's avatar

glee. but i guess it could be argued that he isn’t the main character…

thriftymaid's avatar

Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

Bluefreedom's avatar

Forrest Gump. He was mentally disabled although still quite functional.

DarkScribe's avatar

Rear Window. He was in a wheelchair.

MagsRags's avatar

The Bone Collector starred Angelina Jolie and Denzel Washington – his character is a quadraplegic, confined to a hospital bed and hooked up to a respirator throughout the movie except when the killer comes for him

erichw1504's avatar

A Beautiful Mind

erichw1504's avatar

Fight Club

erichw1504's avatar


“A paralyzed African-American scientist builds a powerful exo-skeleton in order to walk again, and uses his new abilities to fight crime.” – from IMDB.

Keysha's avatar

Wow. A lot more than I thought.

Some I forgot about, others I’ve not seen. Thanks

ucme's avatar

My Left foot.

Trillian's avatar

Marlee Matlin was the main or secondary character in Children of a Lesser God, and has been in too many other tv series to list here, but you can see her here.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

susanc's avatar

Coming Home, Jon Voight plays a paraplegic injured in VietNam
who nevertheless wins Jane Fonda away from a very tight-lipped Bruce Dern. Oops, gave the plot away.

bhec10's avatar


He is kinda crippled

jfos's avatar

The Matrix.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I suppose Psycho qualifies, doesn’t it?

Pandora's avatar

Life Goes On was a tv show where the main character (Corky) actually had Down Syndrome.

Buttonstc's avatar


An excellent movie based on real life. Eric Stoltz played the lead as Rocky Dennis, a teen with Neurofibromitosis. Cher played his free spirited biker Mom and Sam Elliot her boyfriend.

Excellent performances, excellent cast and also a depiction of the warmer side of a culture usually portrayed only in negative stereotypes (bikers).

The title refers to his facial appearance and some of the taunts he would get at school.

All in all, a wonderful movie. Whenever they rerun it on TV, I usually watch.

jfos's avatar

Liar Liar.

The main character became unable to tell a lie.

njnyjobs's avatar

Scent of a Woman… Al Pacino was featured as a blind character.

Men of Honor . . . Cuba Gooding Jr. as Carl Brashear, the first African American, then also the first amputee, US Navy Diver.

Keysha's avatar

@Buttonstc I remember that movie. A real tear-jerker.

For everyone else, thank you so much. I didn’t realize there were that many out there.

rebbel's avatar

Ehhh….., Avatar.

PupnTaco's avatar

Any movie with Tom Cruise.

Keysha's avatar

@rebbel I did think of that, and dismissed it, because, to me, the main characters were not disabled. It was not a primary part played by the disabled human body. I guess it does fit, though. Thank you.

@PupnTaco Comments like yours are why I hardly ever ask questions. I don’t agree with your attempt at humor if that was what you were doing and wanted decent answers.

JLeslie's avatar

Murderball is fantastic. It’s a documentary about the paraplegic on the Olympic rugby team.

By the way I am partial, full disclosure, the parents of one of the main character are friends of mine. But it is very very good. I think all people above the age of 16 should see it.

Keysha's avatar

@JLeslie I’ll have to look for it.

Vunessuh's avatar

@JLeslie On man. Lurve for Murderball. :D Check it out for sure @Keysha.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@njnyjobs I second Men of Honor. Really, really good movie. Plus I lurve pretty much anything with DeNiro in it…

PupnTaco's avatar

@Keysha sorry my attempt at humor offended your sensibilities so greatly. Really.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

“The Fall”

davidgro's avatar

At First Sight
I think I heard that it was kinda based on a true story, but I don’t see that detail listed there.
(Edit, now I do)

opalea's avatar

Family Guy. Peter is mentally disabled.

talljasperman's avatar

Daredevil blind super-hero

talljasperman's avatar

X-men’s prof X

Mariah's avatar

Haha, the first thing I thought of was Pelswick, which is a cartoon I watched occasionally as a kid. The main character was in a wheelchair. I don’t know if it’s ever explained what put him there.

filmfann's avatar

Johnny Belinda female lead is deaf and dumb (Jane Wyman)
Wait Until Dark female lead is blind (Audrey Hepburn)
The Best Years Of Our Lives one of three male leads has no hands, and uses hooks
Elephant Man 2nd male lead is severly disfigured
Avatar male lead is parapallegic
Leaving Las Vegas male lead is Nicholas Cage

Mariah's avatar

Oh! And the main character in What the Bleep Do We Know? is deaf. Although that is barely relevant to the movie.
(I would suggest that movie. Haha)

EDIT: Oh, and in Benny and Joon, June has some serious unnamed mental handicap.

susanc's avatar

In “The Right Stuff”, John Glenn’s wife is a very, very serious stutterer.

Keysha's avatar

Wow. I had no clue there were this many. Thank you so.

JLeslie's avatar

@Vunessuh I really think they should show Murderball to senior high school students.

By the way @Keysha the TV show Friday Night Lights touches on the whole Murderball thing. The football player that gets paralyzed plays some paraplegic rugby in a couple of episodes, and he has a picture of Mark Zupan (from the movie) on his bedroom wall in the show. I think Friday Night Lights is coming back with a new season soon. But, Friday Night lights does not center around this character, he is just one of the ongoing story lines.

janbb's avatar

The Sea Inside with Javier Bardem
The Miracle Worker
Pedro Almodovar’s Talk to Me
The Man Without a Face

ragingloli's avatar

That’s My Bush!

SuperMouse's avatar

@JLeslie lurve for Murderball! FYI, the athletes are actually quadriplegic rather than para, meaning all four of their limbs are impacted by their spinal cord injury. Typically that would be a cervical level injury. The character you are referring to in Friday Night Lights is Jason Street. (played by Scott Porter – an able bodied actor) The character is the star quarterback who sustained a spinal cord injury in the first episode. Zupan actually had a guest starring role in one of the episodes and it is my understanding that the role of Herc was based on Zupan and he was initially offered the part. The storyline lasted the first two seasons and he has since been written out.

@aprilsimnel lurve for The Waterdance! A fabulous and little known movie with amazing performances by Eric Stoltz and Wesley Snipes among others. My boyfriend who is C5 quadriplegic calls this the most realistic depiction of quadriplegia he has seen on film.

A Patch of Blue with Sidney Poitier, Butterflies are Free with Edward Arnold, and the recent television series Blind Justice starring Ron Eldard, all featured blind main characters.

Million Dollar Baby and Who’s Life is it Anyway both have main characters with high spinal cord injuries that require ventilators.

The Men is the story of a paralyzed war veteran who is played by Marlon Brando. Real life amputee Harold Russell starred in The Best Years of Our Lives. Russell was also in Inside Moves, a story of a disabled suicide survivor who hangs out with a bunch of disabled individuals who were treated at the same hospital.

The only comedy I can think of is There’s Something About Mary. Remember Mary’s architect friend? It turned out he was faking it though so I don’t know if that counts!

YARNLADY's avatar

Sue Thomas, F.B.Eye (deaf lip reader for the FBI)

susanc's avatar

Good call, @janbb, but that’s Talk to Her – Almodovar, fabulous movie.

janbb's avatar

@susanc Yup – you’re right; wasn’t it terrific?

JLeslie's avatar

@SuperMouse It’s possible I am just unaware they offered the role to him, but I think his parents would have said something to us (We are very close friends with his parents. but now that we live in different states we see them less and communicate less). He did consult with the show, that I know for sure. You are right I did use the wrong term.

SuperMouse's avatar

@JLeslie I saw Zupan speak at a local university. We talked for a bit after his presentation, that’s when he told me he was offered the role of Herc and turned it down.

JLeslie's avatar

@SuperMouse I see. I’m sure it is true then. I rarely see him, usually only at things like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Last time was when his brother got married I think, which must be 6 years ago? I lose track of time. He’s on facebook if you are interested, and he just posted he is on Twitter now. Like I said I see his parents more often.

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