1. Tommy Gavin- Rescue Me
The protagonist of the FX series "Rescue Me" played by Denis Leary is a firefighter who has recovered and relapsed from alcoholism. Leary's portrayal of the tortured character earned him a Golden Globe and Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor. The show's portrayal of how difficult addiction can be to fight has been praised as realistic and gritty with Gavin fighting between sobriety and relapse.
2. Leo McGarry- The West Wing
Another critically acclaimed drama, the West Wing told the story of Leo McGarry (as played by John Spencer) the White House Chief of Staff and a recovering alcoholic. Actor John Spencer wanted to play the role because he himself is a recovering alcoholic and he felt he could relate to McGarry's struggles with addiction.
3. Vincent Chase- Entourage
The main character on Entourage, Vincent Chase, is an actor looking to make it big in LA with the help of his friends and manager. In the final season, the character spends 3 months in rehab and becomes sober eventually returning to his work with more focus and drive.
4. Andy Sipowicz- NYPD Blue
The popular series NYPD Blue depicts the protagonist as an NYC police detective played by Dennis Franz. Andy Sipowicz was drunk in the first episode but gives up alcohol after a brush with death. The show highlights Sipowicz's relationship to his AA sponsor and his continuing struggles to remain sober. The character's struggles with alcoholism has made it one of the most realistic portrayals of addiction on television.
5. Christy Plunkett – Mom
A more recent TV series stars Anna Faris as Christy Plunkett, a single mother who restarts her life after a battle with alcoholism and drug abuse. The character attends AA meetings and deals with the strained relationship with her mother, another recovering addict trying to make up for her past mistakes.
6. Otis Campbell- Andy Griffith
The Andy Griffith Show utilized many comedic scenes with Otis Campbell the "town drunk" who frequently binged on alcohol. The character raised concerns for the show's sponsors over the portrayal of excessive drinking. In the TV movie sequel called "Return to Mayberry" Campbell is completely sober and employed as the town's ice cream man.
7. Shirley Bennett- Community
The NBC comedy "Community" features a number of supporting actors including the character Shirley Bennett played by Yvette Nicole Brown. While the other characters on the show know Shirley as a wholesome Christian, it is eventually revealed that she had a troubled past as an alcoholic.
8. Hank Dolworth – Terriers
The crime comedy-drama "Terriers" stars Donal Logue as Hank Dolworth, an ex-cop and recovering alcoholic who runs an unlicensed private investigation business along with his best friend, Britt Pollack. The show was critically acclaimed but unfortunately short-lived as it was cancelled after its first season.
9. Grace Kelly- Grace Under Fire
The mid 90s sitcom starred Brett Butler as Grace Kelly, a divorced single mother and recovering alcoholic who is trying to start a new life after leaving an abusive husband. It was a part of a wave of shows centered on a non-traditional, non-nuclear family that were popular at the time. Butler herself struggled with addiction and relapse behind the scenes throughout the progression of the show.
10. Keith Merchant - Never Better
The British television series "Never Better" stars Stephen Mangan as the recovering alcoholic, Keith Merchant who attends AA meetings throughout the show and tries to get his life back on track. The character tries to overcome his self-centered nature and always do the right thing as a husband and a father.