This post is a celebration of people in fiction suffering from disabilities but still managing to be heroes anyhow.
There's a lot of people out there who are disabled. And not always visibly. Bipolar, Depression, Autism... these are all conditions that are just as difficult to live with as an obvious physical disability. I know so many people who suffer from one or more inhibiting factors, who still live interesting, exciting, adventurous lives that would make fascinating stories.
Yet it's hard to write a hero that is limited. Because it limits the writer and what they can do with their story. So I'm not coming down on writers for not including more disabled heroes, I recognize the difficulty of it. Still, it seems as though even minor handicaps like wearing glasses could be a bit more common, doesn't it?
Still, this means that the writers who do decide to write a fiction story with a disabled hero have to work harder to make the story fit what readers want to read when they pick up a fiction novel. So lets take a look at those who have crafted memorable heroes and heroines with handicaps.
Lisbeth Selander (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Aspergers
Tyrion Lannister (A Song of Ice and Fire), Dwarf
Bran Stark (A Song of Ice and Fire), Paralysis
Ivy Walker (The Village), Blind
Barbara Gordon "Batgirl", "Oracle" (Batman Comics), Paralysis
Charles Xavier "Professor X" (X-Men Comics), Paralysis
Jeanne Marie Beaubier "Aurora" (Alpha Flight Comics), Dissociative Identity Disorder
Matt Murdock (Dardevil Comics), Blind
Harry Potter, vision impaired
Dr. Gregory House (House M.D.), Leg infarction
Sherlock Holmes, possibly Manic Depressive, Aspergers or Psychopath (depending on interpretation and adaptation).
Xander Harris (Buffy the Vampire Slayer Comics), Blind in one eye
River Tam (Firefly), mentally unstable (exact condition unknown/non-definable)
Sue Thomas (Sue Thomas F.B. Eye), Deaf
Robert Reynolds "Sentry" (Marvel), Agoraphobic (thanks Isaac!)
Percy Jackson (Percy Jackson and the Olympians), Dyslexic
Max Braverman (Parenthood), Aspergers
Toph (Avatar: The Last Airbender), Blind (Thanks Valia!)
(Source Credits - Thanks to Wikipedia for exact terminology for many of the disabilities)
These are all characters with pretty obvious handicaps, all of which play some role in their respective stories, often quite a large one, and has a deliberate impact on their characterization. Many of them are memorable not because they have a handicap, but because how that handicap creates their unique personality.
Who's missing from this list? Let me know if there is an iconic and well realized character I didn't include that should be here, and I'll add it (crediting you, of course!)