Push Girls/SUNDANCE TV/2012-2013 (Wheelchair)
Angela Rockwood, one of four disabled females living in Los Angeles, California who face day-to-day challenges of women paralyzed by illness or accident.
The reality-documentary series chronicles the struggles of four sexy, dynamic Hollywood women as they “push” through stereotypes, disappointments and career obstacles faced by the disabled and triumph over tragedy by pursuing new dreams involving motherhood, relationships, athletics and stardom.
“The indomitable spirit of this series will give viewers permission to stare at a world that they may previously have been too polite — or too frightened” – Sundance Channel
Angela Rockwood became a quadriplegic after a car accident shattered her C4–C5 vertebrae and severed her spinal cord. She is an actress, model, producer. In 2001, she married actor Dustin Nguyen on Valentine’s Day, six months before her accident.
The other disabled females on the program are Auti Angel, Mia Schaikewitz, Tiphany Adams, and sometimes featured Chelsie Hill.
- Auti Angel was paralyzed in a car accident in 1992. She is a singer, dancer and actress. Auti founded the hip-hop wheelchair dance group Colours ‘n’ Motion in 2003.
- Mia Schaikewitz was paralyzed from the waist down at the age of 15 when a blood vessel (arteriovenous malformation) ruptured in her spinal cord. She is athletic and was a champion swimmer before her disability.
- Tiphany Adams was paralyzed in 2000 by a head-on car collision caused by a drunk driver that killed three of her friends while a senior in high school. She is an aspiring fitness model and clothing designer.
- Chelsie Hill was a passenger in a car driven by a drunk car driver who crashed the car and damaged Chelsie’s spinal cord. Before the accident, Chelsie hoped to pursue a career as a dancer. She dances with Auti and Mia in Colours ‘n’ Motion.
Note: “Push Girls'” producer, Gay Rosenthal, also worked on LITTLE PEOPLE, BIG WORLD, a show about a couple, each 4-feet tall, raising a family in Oregon, and RUBY, the story of a morbidly obese woman trying to lose hundreds of pounds.
See also: External Link – Push Girls
Friday Night Lights/NBC/Direct TV/2006-2011 (Wheelchair/Injured Spine)
Jason Street (Scott Porter), disabled seventeen-year-old high school senior at Dillon High School in Dillon, Texas. Jason was the starting quarterback for the Panthers football team until a devastating spinal injury ended his promising career.
He was hurt tackling a rival player from making a game-ending touchdown. Jason’s injured the C-7 and T-1 level of his spine. He was paralyzed from the chest down. He can move his arms and hands but has limited use of his fingers.
With the help of his family and friends, Jason struggled to cope with his new reality of life as a paraplegic. But, living in a town that worships athletes is difficult for Jason to overcome, but eventually he finds purpose in his life. Meanwhile:
- Jason’s girlfriend, Lyla Garrity (Minka Kelly), a former cheerleader becomes a Christian Youth leader.
- Jason befriends Herc, his rehab roommate and wheelchair rugby teammate.
- Lyla grows apart from Jason and dates Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch), the fullback for the Panthers and Jason’s friend.
- Jason works as an assistant coach for the Panthers but quits after the first game when he disagrees with the authoritarian style of Bill McGregor (Chris Mulkey), the new coach.
- A road trip to Mexico finds Tim Riggins and Jason looking for a non FDA approved treatment for his paralysis.
- Jason moves in with Herc and gets a job at Buddy Garrity’s (Brad Leland) car dealership as a salesman.
- Jason has a one-night stand on a blind date with a waitress named Erin (Tamara Jolaine Hassan) and gets her pregnant. He offers to do the right thing and take care of the woman and the baby.
- A real estate venture finds Jason and friends flipping Buddy Garrity’s house for a profit.
- Jason finds an entry-level job at a sports agency in New York City, and moves to be close to his girlfriend and newborn baby, Noah who have relocated to New Jersey to live with Erin’s parents. As Jason said, “far enough away that I’m not going to be stalker…but close enough that I can be here.”
- Jason, now a full-fledged sports agent, returns to Dillon and meets his former mentor Coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) to see if he is interested in taking a college coaching job. The coach politely declines his offer.
Note: FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS was inspired by H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger’s non-fiction book “Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream” (1990) and the 2004 film based on it. The book explores the 1988 season of the Permian Panthers, a high school football team in Odessa, Texas.
The Jason Street character was inspired by the career of David Edwards, a high school player in San Antonio, Texas.
In the last episode of the series (“Always”) an ending montage show the words “J.Street” written below the “P” in the Dillon Panthers’ locker room.
Game of Thrones/HBO/2011-2018 (Crippled/Spinal Cord Damage)
Prince Brandon “Bran” Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright), disabled fourth child and second son of Lady Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) and Lord Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) who reside in the castle of Winterfell in the North, the largest constituent regions of the Seven Kingdoms.
Brandon is named for Eddard’s elder brother, who was killed (strangled) by the Mad King. Eight thousand years earlier, one Bran the Builder, the founder of House Stark, established the Kingdom of the North, as well as a wall designed to keep out the Whitewalkers, an ancient race of humanoid ice creatures.
Bran is also known as the “Little Lord” and the “Three-eyed Raven.” The name Bran means “raven” in Irish Gaeltic. When Bran does something wrong, his mother uses his full name of Brandon.
As a youth, Bran dreams of becoming a knight in the Kingsguard. In his spare moments, he enjoys climbing the walls of his castle home, exploring the rooftops and passageways of Winterfell. Unfortunately, one day, he falls from a tower and is crippled, injuring his spinal cord. He was actually pushed out of a window when Bran accidentally came upon Queen Cersie, the wife of a visiting king having sex with her twin brother, Jaime.
Bran survives the fall, but is comatose. While recovering, an assassin is sent to silence the boy, but the attempt is thwarted by Summer, a direwolf pup who then stands guard over Bran’s bed. When Bran awakes, he has no memory of the reason why he was pushed but learns he will never walk again.
When Bran was recovering from his fall, a three-eyed raven appeared in his dreams. This was the animal projection of a mystic (Struan Rodger/Max Von Sydow) who lived in a cave. He encouraged Bran to visit him and has since been his mentor who guides his vision-quests. The mystic was later slain with a blade by the Night King. Thereafter, Bran takes up his mantle as the Three-eyed-Raven.
“You will never walk again, but you will fly.” – Three-eyed raven to Bran Stark
Although disabled, Bran has a number of magical powers, including Greensight (“Sight”), the ability to receive prophetic visions. When Bran uses his Greensight to merge with the Heart Tree, he sees visions of past, present and future events. While in vision, he can walk.
Bran can also Warg, the ability to transfer his thoughts into animals, to see through the creatures eyes and control its movements. Bran has done this with Summer, his direwolf companion.
Note: In the fourth episode (May 8, 2011) Hodor carries Bran Stark to meet with Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), a dwarf from a rival kingdom who presents Bran with a gift: an accessible horse-riding saddle. When informed that Bran has lost the use of his legs, Tyrion replies, “What of it? With the right horse and saddle, even a cripple can ride.” When asked why Tyrion wants to help Bran, since the Starks and the Lannisters are rivals. he responds, “I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards, and broken things.”
See also – Game of Thrones (2)
Glee/FOX/2009-2015 (Wheelchair/Damaged Spinal Cord)
Arthur “Artie” Abrams (Kevin McHale), a nerdish, paraplegic teenager with glasses who is confined to a non-motorized wheelchair. He was paralyzed by car accident when he was eight-years-old. Artie attends William McKinley High School in Lima, Ohio. His nemesis are members of his school’s football team who often bully him.
Despite the damage to his spinal cord, Artie is a normal teenager who wants to make friends and find romance with, among others, Tina Cohen-Chang (Jenna Ushkowitz), who had faked a stuttering speech impediment since the sixth grade; Britanny Pierce (Heather Morris), a cheerleader with whom Artie lost his virginity; and Kitty Wilde (Becca Tobin).
Artie is a member of the glee club group “The New Directions” where he sings, and dances in a fashion, by moving his wheelchair in time with the music and the other performers. He also plays guitar with the school’s jazz ensemble, dabbles in film directing, and is a member of both the A.V. Club and the Academic Decathlon team.
Aside from being a talented guy, Artie also has a kind and giving heart. When fellow student and cheerleader Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron) damaged her spine (a truck struck her car) and had to use a wheelchair, Artie took the time to show her how to navigate the ramps and just have a fun time. After weeks of recovery, Quinn was able to walk again.
When the Glee Club is disbanded, Artie graduates and goes to the Brooklyn Film Academy in New York. While still at the film school, he returns to McKinley to help recruit members for the newly rebooted glee club.
In 2020, Artie’s film gets into the Slamdance Film Festival. It starred Tina (who is now his girlfriend). Later, Artie goes back to McKinley for the re-dedication of McKinley’s auditorium (Finn Auditorium) where he performs “I Lived” with every former member of the “New Directions.” They all take a bow.
Note: In the episode “Glee Actually”, Artie injures himself on an icy ramp, and angrily wishes he’d never had to be in a wheelchair. A subsequent dream, shows him walking.
Born June 14, 1988, actor Kevin Michael McHale (who is not disabled) was a former member of the boy band NLT (Not Like Them).
During the season one episode “Laryngitis” Sean Fretthold (Zack Weinstein), appeared as a disabled 16 year old male who lived in Lima, Ohio. He enjoyed math, singing and also attended William McKinley High School.
Sean played on the school football team until an accident paralyzed him from the upper chest down. He injured his spinal cord at the C4 vertebrae.
To get around, Sean used a wheelchair. When he first got his wheelchair, he pushed it into his family swimming pool in a fit of anger. He was a friend of Finn Hudson and Rachel Berry.
See also: Glee (2)
IRONSIDE/NBC/1967-75 (Wheelchair/Injured Spine)
Robert T. Ironside (Raymond Burr), former Chief of Detectives for the San Francisco Police Department who was confined to a wheelchair when paralyzed (from the waist down) by a sniper’s bullet.
He was shot with a .30 Springfield rifle (the bullet grazed his spine) wielded by Honor Thompson (Geraldine Brooks), who owned a Sausalito metal art shop called The Forge.
Confined to St. Mary’s Hospital in Sonoma, Ironside recovered and returned to work as a special consultant to the police commissioner.
Ironside traveled the streets of San Francisco in a specially equipped police van fitted with an electric ramp for easy access/exit.
His support staff included Det. Sgt. Ed Brown; policewoman Eve Whitefield; policewoman Fran Belding, Eve’s replacement; and Mark Sanger (Don Mitchell), the chief’s personal assistant who pushed Ironside’s wheelchair and drove his van.
Note: In 2013, the IRONSIDE franchise was rebooted on the NBC network with Blair Underwood as Detective Robert Ironside, whose spine was shattered by a bullet in the line of duty. Returning to work, Ironside handpicks a team of law enforcement specialists to battle crime in the Big Apple. The series was canceled after three episodes.
BIRDS OF PREY/WB/2002-03 (Wheelchair/Injured Spine)
Barbara Gordon (Dina Meyer), a.k.a. the crime fighter Batgirl who is now relegated to a wheelchair after being shot in the spine by the nefarious criminal known as the Joker. Barbara is the daughter of New Gotham City’s Police Commissioner, James Gordon.
After the battle with the Joker that subsequently killed the female criminal known as Catwoman, Barbara Gordon became the guardian of Helena Kyle, the secret daughter of Selina Kyle, aka “Catwoman” and Bruce Wayne, aka “the caped crusader Batman” who mysteriously disappeared after Catwoman’s death.
Helena inherited her cat-like abilities from her mother. She is also the heir to the Wayne Estate and served by Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s faithful butler.
Now, by day, Barbara Gordon works as a computer science teacher in New Gotham High, and, by night, she becomes Oracle, the leader of a high-tech crime fighting group that consists of Helena Kyle (Ashley Scott), aka The Huntress,” and Dinah Redmond (Rachel Skarsten), aka “Canary” who is a telepath and psychic. Dinah is the daughter Carolyn Lance, a legendary superhero known as the Black Canary (Lori Loughlin).
“Don’t let the wheelchair fool you. I can still kick your ass.” – Oracle
Together, this dynamic trio – based in a New Gotham Clocktower – fight crime as the “Birds of Prey”with the assistance of Detective Jesse Reese (Shemar Moore), a police officer who battles a criminal element with super abilities known as Metahumans. Detective Reese is the son of mob boss, Al Hawk (Mitch Pileggi) who killed the Black Canary, Dinah’s mother.
BEWITCHED/ABC/1964-72 (Injured Back/Spine)
(Dick York/costar) Darrin Stephens, advertising executive with the firm of McMann and Tate who was married to a witch named Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) at 1164 Morning Glory Circle in Westport, Connecticut.
When Dick York was filming They Came to Cordura with Gary Cooper in 1959, he was required to lift a railroad handcar along with several other actors. Unfortunately, when the director yelled “Cut” all the actors but York dropped the handcar and it fell on him, wrenching his spine and tearing his muscles.
The trauma caused by the accident followed him throughout the filming of the BEWITCHED series, forcing him to eventually miss a number of episodes, twelve of which were due to his back ailment. He left the series in 1969.
He spent his later years living in Rockford, Michigan, suffering from a deteriorating spine and emphysema. Although physically incapacitated, he found time to run the Dick York Acting for Life organization that assisted the homeless.
He died on February 21, 1992, at the age of sixty-three.