TV often gets introversion wrong. At their worst, shows cling to stereotypes of introverts as shy, awkward wallflowers. Geeks who prefer the company of their computers over people. However, some of the best portrayals of introverts on television go unnoticed, because we don’t even realize they’re introverts.
The following list includes highly complex characters — characters who, like real people, aren’t defined by their introversion. They can be highly social, super successful, deeply flawed, and even downright mean. We may not love them all, but one thing’s for certain. We love watching them.
1. Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones — Arguably the most likable of the Lannisters, Tyrion makes up for what he lacks in size with keen wit. As he explains to Jon Snow to justify his love of reading, “My mind is my weapon… and a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.” Tyrion Lannister may talk a lot and do it well, but his great wit is only possible thanks to a lifetime spent in quiet reflection.
2. Walter White, Breaking Bad — Constantly underestimated by his DEA agent brother-in-law, Walter White uses his meek persona to his advantage. After all, no way could such a mild-mannered high school teacher have anything to do with the recent boom in meth sales and a string of grisly murders. Drug lords are extroverts, right? Not necessarily.
3. Peggy, Mad Men — Peggy lives a glamorous life as a New York ad exec. She attends fancy galas, knows how to schmooze, and even manages to get knocked up by a sleazy co-worker in the first season. Don’t be deceived by her social tendencies though. Like many powerful, successful leaders, Peggy works hard, spending nights in the office alone to come up with just the right idea for tomorrow’s pitch meeting. Peggy may be a trailblazer for women in the work-force, but like many trail-blazers, she isn’t afraid to go it alone.
4. Ron Swanson, Parks and Rec — Ron Swanson is the man. Who else can make mustaches and libertarianism seem so cool? However, despite his confidence and all-around awesomeness, Ron Swanson just wants to be left alone so he can whittle. He hires April because of her skills at getting rid of people. His idea of a perfect birthday bash consists of whiskey, a steak dinner, and a private screening of The Bridge on the River Kwai. If that isn’t introvert heaven, I don’t know what is.
5. Liz Lemon, 30 Rock — Liz Lemon may be more of what people have in mind when they think of introverts. She’s a writer, she loathes intimacy, and let’s face it — she wears glasses. Liz also has one of the coolest jobs around. She’s pretty much fearless when it comes to getting what she wants or enacting petty hot-dog-inspired revenge. Plus who can forget that time she braved a threesome with James Franco and a Japanese sex pillow?
6. Frank Underwood, House of Cards — Granted, the defining characteristic of Frank Underwood probably isn’t his introversion. But once you look past the more obvious sociopathic nature of his personality, you realize that he enjoys long, solitary runs and quiet nights in with the wife just as much as the next introvert. He may lack the outgoing charisma necessary to get elected president the traditional way, but Frank Underwood is just cunning enough to eke his own way into the oval office.
I once worked with a man for three years and never got to know his name. Best friend I ever had. Ron Swanson
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