Daniel's Schizophrenia - Perception
Perception was a unique show in that its lead suffered from schizophrenia on top of being a respected neuroscientist who often worked with the FBI. In some ways this show reinforced the trope of mental illness as a superpower, but it also demonstrated how difficult ordinary things were for Daniel to do, especially when he couldn't separate fantasy from reality when his schizophrenia was acting up. In addition, Perception departed from TV tradition by showing a person with schizophrenia in a positive light instead of suggesting people who suffer from this disorder are violent or scary.
Dr. Kevin Casey's OCD - Scrubs
Michael J. Fox guest starred on the medical comedy Scrubs as Kevin Casey, a doctor with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. At first he drove JD and the other residents up the wall with his need for perfection, but when JD discovered that Casey was literally unable to stop washing his hands, he saw Casey in a different light -- and so did we.
Adrian Monk's OCD - Monk
Adrian Monk was a detective who suffered from such severe OCD that he couldn't live independently and couldn't function at a regular job, but was able to work as a consultant for the police department that had once employed him. His devastation over wife Trudy's death made his disorder worse and if that wasn't heartbreaking enough, sometimes he struggled with social skills and other things that most people take for granted. For example, who can forget the time he went to the circus and was confused as to why his aide Sharona was hurt that he laughed at her fear of elephants even though she put up with all of his OCD-related fears?
Bailey's Struggle with OCD - Grey's Anatomy
Grey's Anatomy treated MIranda Bailey's OCD with respect and realism that is not often shown on television when it comes to mental health issues. Bailey's OCD was revealed gradually over the course of a few episodes in Season 10, and then on Grey's Anatomy Season 14 Episode 11, she had a hard time getting treatment when she had a heart attack because her doctor believed she was just having an OCD-related panic attack. This story highlighted the difficulties that people with disabilities and women -- especially women of color -- often have when seeking health care.
Sonny's Bipolar Disorder - General Hospital
General Hospital's Sonny Corinthos is a mob boss whose struggle with bipolar disorder is realistic and moving, thanks in part to the input of actor Maurice Benard, who has the illness in real life and uses his role on General Hospital to help spread awareness.
Penelope's Anxiety Disorder - One Day at A Time
Netflix's One Day at a Time reboot isn't scared to tackle big issues, and Penelope's mental health is one of them. Penelope has struggled to accept her anxiety issues throughout the series, and on One Day at a Time Season 3 Episode 9, she has a breakdown as she tries to study for her nurse practitioner exam, deal with her kids' issues, and face her fears of moving too fast with her boyfriend all at once. The episode moves deftly back and forth between her mental state and external reality, using color differences to help viewers follow what's going on and allowing us a peek inside her head.