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Handicapped Badass / Live-Action TV

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Handicapped Badasses in live-action TV.


  • Jack Bauer has chronic (often torture-induced) heart problems throughout 24, and continues to kick ass in spite of having been clinically dead twice as a result.
  • Agent Sousa of Agent Carter. A leg injury in WWII crippled him, forcing him to walk with a crutch. However he is still a dangerously smart SSR agent, and can still hold his own in a fight.
  • Wesley Windham-Price in Angel used a wheelchair temporarily at one point. It's a good thing he was handy with a shotgun. In a vision of an alternate reality, Wesley was badass despite the loss of an arm.
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  • Llud the Silver-Handed from Arthur of the Britons. A one-handed warlord and Arthur's adoptive father, the "Silver-Handed" epithet comes from his (non-functional) silver prosthesis.
  • Alfred Bester in Babylon 5. It's easy to miss because his badassery is more of the Manipulative Bastard variety, and it's never mentioned in dialogue, but his left hand is immobile. It only becomes really obvious in a late episode where he has to use his teeth to help remove his right glove.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003):
    • Col. Tigh had his eye plucked out between the second and third seasons, and if anything becomes more badass as a result.
    • Samuel Anders took a bullet to the brain, survived and was then hooked up directly to the Galactica's central computer, essentially becoming Galactica itself for the final few episodes of the show.
    • Lt. Felix Gaeta lost his leg and shortly thereafter started a full-scale, devastating mutiny against his CO.
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  • Birds of Prey: Barbara Gordon, formerly Batgirl, was shot by The Joker prior to the start of the series, leaving her a paraplegic. Normally she stays at the hideout as Oracle, but she's still quite capable of defending herself with gadgetry and collapsible batons (one extreme case saw her use technology to temporarily restore her ability to walk).
  • Mid-season four of Blindspot, Jane Doe manages to take down a serial killer with over three dozen known victims who had managed to capture Jane, despite the fact that Jane was currently being affected by ZIP poisoning, which has reached a point where she's practically deaf and blind while dealing with searing headaches.
  • Richard Harrow from Boardwalk Empire, who suffered a horrific facial injury in World War I that cost him an eye and damaged his nerves so that eating and drinking is very difficult. But he's still a very skilled sniper.
  • Breaking Bad:
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    • The protagonist's Reign of Badass began with his diagnosis of terminal cancer.
    • One of the Cousins doesn't ease up on his Roaring Rampage of Revenge at all after his legs are amputated.
  • T-Bag in the Breakout Kings episode "The Bag Man". He stabs a guard to death with his prosthetic hand and then proceeds to go an a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Robert Morehouse of Copper lost his leg after a battle in the Civil War. Aside from being a Guile Hero who can play Tammany Hall like a fiddle, at the end of the series he leads a manhunt to find John Wilkes Booth, and despite his missing leg and 1860s prosthetic he manages to be quite good at it. However, it takes its toll on him, and the chafing from the prosthetic causes him immense and crippling pain.
  • Auggie Anderson of Covert Affairs. Went blind on a special ops mission, learned Braille in two years, is head of tech ops at the CIA, and kicked the collective asses of two members of the Russian mob on a moving train, while shirtless. He probably still has nanobots in his body from his days at the NSA.
  • CSI has Doc Robbins. He has two prosthetic legs and walks with the aid of a crutch, but if he catches you in his morgue and you don't have a right to be there, he will attack you, usually with his crutch and anything else that comes to hand. And if the odds are fair, he'll probably win.
  • In an episode of Dark Angel, Logan struggles with an assailant and hauls them both to the ground. Logan then declares, "The thing about wheelchairs: they build upper-body strength" before beating the guy.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The First Doctor had to walk with a cane, and was just as badass as any of his future regenerations.
    • Davros, an Omnicidal Maniac who only has one (mechanical) eye and the use of one hand. Despite this, he and his Daleks are two of the most feared monsters in the show. Think Stephen Hawking aged several hundred years. Later on, he gets the one working hand shot off... and replaces it with a prosthetic that SHOOTS FRICKIN' LIGHTNING BOLTS.
    • The Menoptera freed from the Crater of Needles in "The Web Planet" had had their wings cut off when enslaved. They could still kick Zarbi ovipositor.
    • In "Oxygen", the Doctor gets blinded after having to give Bill his helmet during a spacewalk. He still saves the day with minimal help.
  • Dr. Kerry Weaver in ER. She walks with the aid of a crutch for the majority of the series, but is in no way impeded in helping her fellow doctors in emergency situations. In one episode, she assists in the arrest of a schizophrenic patient who had killed Med student Lucy Knight and seriously injured Dr. John Carter, by tripping him with her crutch. A few episodes after this, she uses the crutch to beat her way through a crowd of brawling High School footballers to help Malucci, who had been knocked unconscious in the chaos. Later, in season 8, she leaps into a crashed ambulance, surrounded by fallen power lines, in a storm, to deliver an injured pregnant woman's baby.
    • Also, she's everybody's boss for a significant chunk of the series.
  • Fargo: A recurring element in the series is the pair of quirky henchmen and of all of them, season 1's Mr. Wrench is probably the most dangerous. He's a deaf hitman (played by the also deaf Russel Harvard) who nearly kills the Big Bad of the first season and much later tears through the villains from season 3 including that season's quirky henchman pair.
  • Scorpius from Farscape. The jury-rigged hybrid product of a cruel Mars Needs Women project that used two species which were almost completely incompatible, he's in constant pain and almost constantly on the point of dying from heatstroke, depending on a Clingy Costume cooling system that includes a heat sink running through his skull into his cranial cavity. But as long as his endothermic heat-absorbing rods get changed regularly he's a Genius Bruiser who can both beat the crap out of people and outplot anyone in the universe.
  • In Firefly, the Alliance's brutal and unethical mental enhancement and training exercises leave River Tam with a case of borderline psychosis. It's unclear if she's a stone cold badass because of this or in spite of it.
  • Freak Out, the short-lived British disabled lifestyle show, was presented by the short-armed martial artist Mat Fraser and featured amputee stunt men, one who worked on Predator2 for the scenes where the Predator lost an arm. Another episode followed disabled hunters, but subverted the trope since, as Mat put it, it wasn't about independence as much as interdependence. Properly paired, two disabled hunters could hunt as well as any able bodied hunter.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Tyrion's stature certainly counts as a handicap in a world where it's mandatory for men to be big, strong and dangerous fighters. If his ability to talk, bargain or weasel himself out of dangerous situations doesn't make him badass enough, his final discovery of a useful fighting style for anyone under five feet certainly makes him so. That and talking a bunch of disheartened city guards into making a foray out of a city under siege.
    • Although Bran can't walk, he's become quite a powerful warg and later on the second Three-Eyed-Raven.
    • The Greatjon is still one of Robb's best soldiers despite losing two fingers.
    • Jaime still manages to be a fairly competent fighter after having his right hand cut off, but he's understandably perturbed about losing most of his physical prowess, his only noticeable trait to the outside world (he is the Kingslayer after all) and skilled fighters like Bronn can easily knock him down, forcing Jaime to learn how to improvise. Though he does take out a Dornishman with the help of his golden hand, so there's that.
  • Oswald Cobblepot of Gotham. Having his legs broken early in the series has made him walk like, well, a Penguin. He is still, however, an incredibly ruthless and cold blooded killer.
  • An episode of Hawaii Five-O called "Hookman" featured a deadly sniper with hooks for hands. The guy who played the sniper is a Real Life Handicapped Badass, private investigator J.J. Armes.
  • Highlander's Joe Dawson has no legs and can kick your ass all day long. His cane is made to stand up to swordstrokes.
  • Dr. Gregory House has 1.5 legs because he lost the muscle from one due to sickness. It didn't dilute his MO of 'break into patient's houses' at all.
  • Ironside (1967), starring Raymond Burr as a chief of detectives in a wheelchair, was a piker. The series received a short-lived remake, Ironside (2013), with Blair Underwood as a Race Lifted version of the original character.
  • In his second appearance in Jonathan Creek, Gideon Pryke is in a wheelchair and can only move one finger, due to being hit by a sniper. With a voice-activated computer and a few other tricks built into the chair, he continues to be a brilliant and badass no-nonsense detective.
  • Little known fact about Michael Knight. In the pilot, Detective Michael Long is shot in the face by a traitorous bitch. The only thing that saves him is a metal plate in his cranium from a war injury suffered ostensibly in Vietnam. The reconstructive surgery results in him becoming the Knight Rider.
  • Longstreet: Mike Longstreet was blind and studied martial arts with Bruce Lee. Bruce friggin' Lee.
  • Inverted and played with on Lost. The Bald of Awesome is revealed to have been paralyzed in the past, then revealed that his paralyzed self was weak and sad, then revealed that he was a sad little creature even before he was paralyzed. Then reveled that he was using the Idiot Ball all through the seasons even after he was healed.
  • Stevie from Malcolm in the Middle becomes a true avatar of this trope in the episode wherein Reese deliberately picks a fight with him as an easy opponent, only for Stevie to show up for the brawl in a FREAKIN' HOMEMADE EXOSKELETON and pound the tar out of him...
  • In My Name Is Earl, the one-legged girl's boyfriend, despite missing both legs and an arm, brutally kicks Earl's ass.
  • Once Upon a Time: Mr. Gold walks with a limp as a result of a self-inflicted injury during the Ogre Wars. Doesn't stop him from intimidating and manipulating everyone in town, as well as delivering beatings with his cane. Also, Hook.
  • Person of Interest: Finch walks with a limp due to a metal spine graft caused by an explosion which killed his best friend and while not being a badass fighting wise, he is a master hacker, Badass Bookworm and is willing to put himself in life-threatening situations to save his friends, in one case threatening an assassin with death by electrocution to get him to back down. Also, Reese uses a wheelchair or crutches for one episode after being shot by the CIA. It doesn't stop him from taking down the villain-of-the-week.
  • In Powers, both Triphammer and his successor, Martinez, are amputees. Bonus points for Martinez being a veteran.
  • Pretty Little Liars: Jenna, blinded after an accident when she and the Liars were fourteen, still manages to scare them senseless on and off for seasons at a time, what with her manipulations, lies, and frame ups. After the Time Skip at the end of the last season, she is now the life skills teacher at Rosewood High. And still a Badass.
  • Anthony Ryan Auld from Project Runway's 9th season qualifies in that despite being color blind he managed to become a fan favorite for his season and eventually win the second All Stars season. Especially since he's a fashion designer and color blindness would usually be thought of as a huge disadvantage.
  • PBS's forensic history series Secrets Of The Dead did an episode on King Richard III Plantagenet's remains, even training a Renaissance reenactor with the same type of severe scoliosis as Richard in medieval fighting arts and getting him a custom-made suit of plate armor. Turns out that it would only have been a mild impediment on foot (mainly due to diminished lung capacity from the malformed ribcage) and no impediment at all on horseback (which neatly explains the "my kingdom for a horse" line in the play).
  • Lex Luthor in Season 8 of Smallville. Left crippled after the previous season's finale, he is quadriplegic, and forced to breathe via a respirator. He still has Clark, Oliver, and all their friends quaking in their boots at the mention of his name, even though he's the one on life support. Appearing for only one episode, he uses his Chessmaster abilities to do more damage in that one than most villains do in a season. In addition to that one episode, Lex spent most of the season as The Man Behind the Man to Tess, further reinforcing his Chessmaster status.
  • Space: Above and Beyond: Lieutenant Colonel TC McQueen. He's not crippled in the sense that he lacks full control of his body, but because due to injuries in the opening days of the Chig War, he has an electronic implant in his brain that acts as his Inner Ear. If it is exposed to High-G maneuvers, it will explode, inducing a stroke. So when an alien fighter ace shows up in his nigh-invincible prototype fighter and starts tearing entire squadrons apart, McQueen has the implant removed, and learns to walk, run, do pushups and chin-ups, and fly a high-performance space fighter... all without a sense of balance. He fights the Chig ace one-on-one, and kicks his ass after a lengthy and pitched battle.
  • Holly in The Sparticle Mystery is missing half of her left arm, still has a role as the group's Action Girl.
  • In the Stargate SG-1 movie Continuum Daniel Jackson loses his leg. Still doesn't stop him from busting caps in the Goa'uld.
    • Lt. Col. Cameron Mitchell shattered his leg in the battle against Anubis. He still has pins holding his leg together. He is also a Colonel Badass.
  • Throughout Star Trek:
    • The Next Generation
      • Captain Picard. It is revealed in "Tapestry" that a hot-headed younger Picard got into a bar fight and got stabbed in the chest, requiring an artificial heart to be put in. It worked reasonably well until he was shot during a riot. It takes on greater significance because the audience learns the fight, as well as Picard losing his original heart, is what ultimately led to him becoming a galaxy-class badass.
      • Lt. Commander Geordi LaForge, "a man with unique vision".
    • Deep Space Nine
      • General Martok is the classic example of a Handicapped Badass. He loses an eye from several successive no-holds-barred fights with Jem'Haddar, then carries on the war and eventually heads the Klingon Empire with only ONE EYE because "I DO NOT WANT AN OCULAR IMPLANT!"
      • Melora Pazlar is a Starfleet officer who, although not disabled as such, was from a low-gravity world and used a wheelchair and braces because the gravity on the station was too high for her. The treatment that Dr. Bashir developed for her didn't solve the problem, but they did make her partially phaser-proof, and she went on to turn down the gravity at a crucial moment and whip the bad guy's ass.
  • Supernatural:
    • Bobby, after he gets injured and is unable to walk. He retires from hunting, but fights when he has to.
    • Castiel is this as of season 10, as he's lost his ability to fly due to his wings being broken, seemingly irreparably.
    • A season 11 episode features a hearing-impaired hunter named Eileen. Doesn't stop her from kicking monster ass.
  • Tate (starring David McLean aka The Marlboro Man) was a travelling gunfighter and bounty hunter who had lost the use of his left arm during the Civil War.
  • During the intro to the second season of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Cameron suffers damage to her leg that limits her to a slow, unsteady limp. Naturally, while she is limping, Cameron becomes an order of magnitude more terrifying as she hunts the Connors.
  • Billy Baxter, blinded during the war in Bosnia and still faster round the Top Gear test track than two of the fully sighted celebs. He also holds the blind solo motorbike land speed record.
    • One of the team's challenges was to create a better off-road motorized wheelchair than the ones commercially available, and then do a navigation race against a team of former British Army soldiers that used the commercially available chairs to get to the top of a mountain. Through a variety of issues (including the fact that the team's wheelchairs were Awesome, but Impractical), the soldiers won.
  • Wilson Wilson in Utopia has just been blinded at the hands of a cold-blooded Torture Technician. When the torturer returns from a fag break, Wilson has managed to free himself and shoots him with his own pistol whilst completely unable to see. He's later sporting an Eyepatch of Power.
  • The mercenary Ham Tyler (played by Michael Ironside) in V: The Final Battle was originally written as wheelchair-bound. In his introduction scene, he was to knock Mike Donovan flat on his back.
  • War of the Worlds: Norton Drake is in a wheelchair, and can STILL beat your ass down with a big stick. And he'll cheat to make sure of it.
  • After Omar breaks his leg jumping from a window in The Wire, he proceeds to kick five kinds of ass all over Baltimore. On one leg.
  • Richard "Yin Yang Man" Branden of WMAC Masters was blind in his right eye after a car accident when he was a kid. When he confesses this to the rest of the cast, he tells about how his passion for the martial arts was reignited when he witnessed an exhibition by a martial artist confined to a wheelchair, who taught him to think of a perceived handicap as a challenge to work at overcoming.
  • Alex Krycek from The X-Files. Gets his arm sawed off after escaping a Russian gulag, but it doesn't slow him down much. It does eventually get him killed, though, as he can't hold a gun with his prosthesis.


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