TV Series Featuring Characters or Performers With Disabilities

A big part of raising awareness and acceptance for people with disabilities is making their stories part of popular culture. Check out our list of TV series that have had regularly featured characters or performers with disabilities. Be sure to check out reviews before watching because they aren't all kid-friendly.


Show: "Alphas"
Network: SyFy
On the Air: 2011-2012
Gary Bell (Ryan Cartwright) is a young man with autism whose abilities as a "human antenna" make him valuable to a crime-fighting team of people with extraordinary abilities.

Breaking Bad

Show: "Breaking Bad"
Network: AMC
On the Air: 2008-2013
Walter White, Jr. (RJ Mitte) is the son of a chemistry teacher turned meth maker who, like the actor who plays him, has ​cerebral palsy​.

The Bridge

Show: "The Bridge"
Network: FX
On the Air: 2013-2014
Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger) is an autistic detective in the El Paso police department.

Covert Affairs

Show: "Covert Affairs"
Network: USA
On the Air: 2010-2014
Christopher Gorham plays Auggie Anderson, a blind CIA analyst who's a tech whiz and sidekick for newbie agent Annie Walker, played by Piper Perabo.


Show: "Glee"
Network: FOX
On the Air: 2009-2015
Artie Abrams (Kevin McHale), is a glee-club member who uses a wheelchair, and Becky Jackson (Lauren Potter), is a cheerleader with Down syndrome.

Grey's Anatomy

Show: "Grey's Anatomy"
Network: ABC
On the Air: 2005-Present
The sixth season features Dr. Virginia Dixon (Mary McDonnell), a cardiac surgeon on the autism spectrum.

King & Maxwell

Show: "King and Maxwell"
Network: TNT
On the Air: 2013
The show features Edgar Roy (Ryan Hurst), who is often described as "a high-functioning autistic savant" specializing in patterns and numerical sequences.


Show: "Legit"
Network: FX and FXX
On the Air: 2013-2014
Billy Nugent (DJ Qualls), a man with muscular dystrophy is sprung from a nursing home by a friend trying to do good.

Life Goes On

Show: "Life Goes On"
Network: ABC
On the Air: 1989-1993
Corky Thatcher (Chris Burke), a high-school student with Down syndrome, just like the actor who plays him, is a member of the family the series focuses on.

The Middle

Show: "The Middle"
Network: ABC
On the Air: 2009-2018
Brick (Atticus Shaffer), the youngest child of the Heck family has osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), also known as brittle bone disease.

Modern Family

Show: "Modern Family"
Network: ABC
On the Air: 2009-2020
Sarah Hyland, who plays Haley Dunphy, revealed that she was born with kidney dysplasia and received a kidney transplant from her father in April 2012. After complications five years later, she received a kidney from her brother, actor Ian Hyland.


Show: "Parenthood"
Network: NBC
On the Air: 2010- 2015
Max Braverman (Max Burkholder), a member of the youngest generation of the sprawling Braverman clan is on the autism spectrum.

The Secret Life of the American Teenager

Show: "The Secret Life of the American Teenager"
Network: ABC Family
On the Air: 2008-2013
Tom Bowman (Luke Zimmerman), is a level-headed young man with Down syndrome, much like the actor who plays him.

St. Elsewhere

Show: "St. Elsewhere"
Network: NBC
On the Air: 1982-1988
Tommy Westphall (Chad Allen) is the autistic son of St. Eligius Hospital honcho Dr. Donald Westphall.

Switched at Birth

Show: "Switched at Birth"
Network: ABC Family
On the Air: 2011- 2017
Daphne Vasquez (Katie Leclerc), a Deaf teenager, finds out she went home with the wrong family as an infant. One episode—season 2, episode 9—used only American Sign Language (ASL).

The West Wing

Show: "The West Wing"
Network: NBC
On the Air: 1999-2006
Marlee Matlin plays Joey Lucus, a pollster who, much like the actor who plays her, is Deaf.

1 Source
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  1. National Kidney Foundation. Modern Family star opens up about her kidney disease and transplants.

By Terri Mauro
Terri Mauro is the author of "50 Ways to Support Your Child's Special Education" and contributor to the Parenting Roundabout podcast.