Autism characters on TV
10 TV Characters With Autism Spectrum Disorder

For those who love watching television, especially TV shows on neurodiversity, you’ve probably noticed that TV shows and Movies have improved, at least in how they portray authentic Autism. Back in the day, most movies presented autistic characters as savants with Superman-like abilities.

Today, we know that this is possible, but there is a broader spectrum of traits associated with autism, and the entertainment industry has made efforts to showcase this diversity. But again, they still need to do more to represent the autism community accurately.

That said, let’s look at ten autistic characters in TV shows.

Max Braverman – Parenthood

This one is based on a real-life father-son story experienced by Executive Producer Jason Katsims. Max, being the central character throughout the show, portrays traits such as limited eye contact and authentic perspectives on the world around him. His scenes are often viewed as deeply emotional, given their true-to-life portrayal of the challenges faced by parents with autistic children.

As Max grows older in the show, he delves into his experiences with dating as an autistic teenager. This portrayal has been widely praised for its comprehensive and accurate depiction of autism on television, making it one of the most highly regarded representations to date.  

Dr. Shaun Murphy – The Good Doctor

The Good Doctor has received immense popularity among its audience for its representation of Dr. Shaun Murphy, an autistic surgeon. Shaun Murphy’s character is portrayed as a highly-skilled doctor; however, like many other depictions of autistic characters in the media, he faces challenges with social interactions.

The positive side of this representation is that Murphy also possesses an eidetic memory, similar to Sheldon Cooper, allowing him to recall even the smallest details. This portrayal may align with the trend in television shows to depict autistic characters as having savant syndrome, but it still serves as a source of inspiration and positive representation for individuals on the spectrum.  

Sherlock Holmes – Sherlock

For those unfamiliar with  the name, Sherlock Holmes is a well-known figure often referred to as the “world’s greatest detective.” The man has a remarkable talent for noticing even the smallest of details, allowing him to crack almost any case successfully. Sherlock possesses some form of autism, with his companion Dr. Watson pinpointing his condition as Asperger’s syndrome.

Sherlock displays characteristics typically associated with individuals on the spectrum, such as intense focus and social insecurities.  Overall, Sherlock Holmes serves as a unique representation of individuals with autism in popular media.  

Jerry Espenson – Boston Legal

The character Jerry Espenson in Boston Legal portrayed classic characteristics of autism, such as difficulty with eye contact and social interaction, as well as intense focus. However, critics have noted that some of his behaviors were exaggerated for dramatic effect and did not accurately reflect the experiences of most individuals on the autism spectrum.

Overall, there is a notable improvement in the representation of autism on television, with a range of characters depicting different aspects of the spectrum. Some representations have stood the test of time, while others may not be viewed as favorably as time goes on due to changing perspectives and advancements in understanding autism.

We need to continue making progress in including more diverse and accurate portrayals, particularly of women on the spectrum, to promote greater understanding and acceptance.  

Autism Support and Quality Care in Chicago, IL

We at Illinois Autism Center strongly believe in the importance of accurate and respectful representation of autism in media, as it can greatly impact public perception and acceptance, ultimately leading to a more inclusive society for individuals on the spectrum.

Let us continue to support and advocate for more diverse, accurate, and respectful portrayals of individuals on the autism spectrum in all forms of media. For Autism Support and Quality Care, get in touch with us.