Let’s be clear: There’s nothing funny about drug addiction, nor is there anything to be gained from glamorizing it.
But there have still been some amazing characters struggling – with varying degrees of silliness – with addiction on television.
As Edie Falco returns to television Sunday in Nurse Jackie, we’re looking at other famous addicts from the small screen who have captured our hearts.
Edie Falco as Nurse Jackie
Falco’s critically-acclaimed turn as Nurse Jackie‘s lead has been peppered with a whole lot of pills, including – in no particular order – Vicodin, Adderall, Percocet, Xanax and Oxycontin. Though she recently went to rehab, we don’t really have high expectations for her sobriety.
Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman
Breaking Bad‘s Jesse Pinkman evolved from a character the show’s creators wanted to kill off to the show’s soulful moral center as Bryan Cranston’s Walter White drifted increasingly towards permanent corruption. While Pinkman eventually got clean, his troubles with drugs anchored some of his most riveting screen time.
Elizabeth Berkley as Jesse Spano
“Jessie’s Song” is one of Saved By the Bell‘s most-remembered (and most-mocked) shows, primarily for the above clip. Berkley-as-Spano spent the episode under the sway of an apparently crippling caffeine pill addiction, and the result is both gripping and our favorite Berkley onscreen moment. (At least until Showgirls.)
Andre Royo as Bubbles
The Wire dealt with drug addiction with as much candor and pathos as it did, well, everything else, so it’s no surprise Andre Royo’s heroin addict with a heart of gold, Bubbles, is one of the show’s most affecting characters. Bubbles got clean by the show’s finale, but not before dragging viewers through some of the most wrenching story lines ever committed to television.
Michael Imperioli as Christopher Moltisanti
Saying The Sopranos wasn’t afraid to shock its fans is an understatement. But the emotional gauntlet Moltisanti’s drug abuse put the show’s fans through was serious, even when it was kind of funny. (That poor dog.)
Jessica Walters as Lucille Bluth
Arrested Development‘s Lucille Bluth’s ever-present martini and savage wit made her a hilarious update to the grand dames of 1930s’ screwball comedies. But not without trouble – Bluth once interpreted her pill bottle’s “may induce drowsiness” heavy-lidded-eye icon as a knowing wink, and decided there was no harm in mixing pill and booze.
Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House
House‘s titular doctor did take Vicodin for a legitimate injury at first. As the show continued, though, the character’s struggles with drugs became one of the more realistic drug battles on network television, albeit one leavened by Hugh Laurie’s charismatic and very funny performance.
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