Television has always been a medium for storytelling, an art that goes beyond visuals and sounds. One of the most compelling techniques used to breathe life into stories is personification. As we delve into the world of TV shows, we unveil over a hundred examples where personification not only enhances the narrative but also shapes the viewer’s perspective.
Personification in a TV show refers to the literary device where human qualities, emotions, or intentions are attributed to non-human entities, objects, or even abstract ideas. This technique allows writers to imbue inanimate objects, animals, or concepts with characteristics typically associated with humans, thereby adding depth, relatability, or intrigue to the narrative. Personification can be used to evoke emotions, create mood, or drive particular thematic elements, and when done effectively, it can leave a lasting impact on the audience.
While there are numerous memorable instances of personification across TV shows, one of the most iconic is the character of Wilson, the volleyball, from the movie “Cast Away” (though it’s not a TV show, its impact is widely recognized). In the absence of human interaction, the protagonist, Chuck, turns to an inanimate volleyball for companionship, painting a face on it and naming it Wilson. Throughout the movie, Wilson becomes a sounding board, a source of comfort, and ultimately, a symbol of Chuck’s loneliness and resilience. The depth of emotion attached to this non-living entity, to the extent that audiences felt a real sense of loss during a pivotal scene, demonstrates the power of personification in storytelling.
1. The Cars in “Cars” – Though it’s an animated movie that later had a TV series spin-off, the characters, being vehicles, possess human emotions, ambitions, and relationships.
2. Winter in “Game of Thrones” – Often, winter isn’t just a season. It’s depicted as a looming entity with intentions, evoking dread with phrases like “Winter is Coming”.
3. The TARDIS in “Doctor Who” – The Doctor’s time machine is more than just a device. On multiple occasions, it has shown emotions, preferences, and even conversed with the Doctor.
4. Samantha in “Her” – Though a film, its influence seeped into TV culture. Samantha, an AI, displays human emotions, aspirations, and desires.
5. The Sun in “Teletubbies”: The sun, with the face of a giggling baby, mirrors the moods and rhythms of the Teletubby land, shining brighter when all is well.
6. The Forest in “Stranger Things”: The dark and mysterious woods in Hawkins, Indiana seem to have their own emotions, reacting and responding to the events of the Upside Down.
7. BB-8 in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”: Although a droid, BB-8 displays human-like emotions such as fear, excitement, and loyalty.
8. Death in “Supernatural”: Portrayed as a character, Death has his own whims, emotions, and even a taste for fast food.
9. Money in “Billions”: Money, though not directly personified, seems to have a life and energy of its own, influencing decisions and determining fates.
10. The Polar Bear in “Lost”: While it’s an animal, the way it’s portrayed gives it intentions, motives, and almost a human-like vendetta.
11. New York City in “Sex and the City”: The city is more than just a backdrop; it’s like a living, breathing character with moods and rhythms that shape the lives of the main characters.
12. The Blue Caterpillar in “Once Upon a Time”: While a creature, its wise, almost sage-like demeanor gives it a depth beyond just an insect.
13. Greendale Community College in “Community”: The college has its own personality, quirks, and even ’emotions’ that directly or indirectly influence its inhabitants.
14. The Serpent in “Riverdale”: More than just a symbol for a gang, it’s personified as a lurking entity influencing the town’s events.
15. The “Upside Down” in “Stranger Things”: A parallel dimension with a palpable personality, reacting and morphing as events unfold.
16. The Island in “Lost”: Beyond just a location, the island has its own will, purpose, and a mysterious way of ‘communicating’.
17. The Title Belt in “GLOW”: Represents more than just a championship, it’s portrayed with desires, legacy, and a sense of power.
18. The Mask in “The Mask: Animated Series”: When worn, the mask has its own persona, whims, and desires, often overriding its wearer’s intentions.
19. The Crown in “The Crown”: It’s not just a piece of jewelry but carries weight, responsibilities, and a legacy, influencing the wearer’s decisions and life.
20. Westworld in “Westworld”: The park, though filled with androids, has its own evolving character and mood, influenced by both its creators and inhabitants.
21. The Iron Throne in “Game of Thrones”: While simply a chair made of swords, it seems to beckon, influence, and pass judgment, deciding the fate of many who dare to desire it.
22. Moby Dick in “Moby Dick: The Animated Series”: The whale is not just an animal but represents vengeance, the overpowering force of nature, and the destructive obsession of Captain Ahab.
23. The Library in “The Magicians”: More than just a repository of books, the library has its own rules, moods, and even seems to ‘choose’ what information can be accessed by whom.
24. The Portrait in “The Picture of Dorian Gray (TV adaptations)”: The painting is more than canvas and paint; it embodies Dorian’s soul, aging, decaying, and showcasing his moral degradation.
25. Central Perk in “Friends”: This coffee shop is more than a setting; it’s almost a companion to the main characters, holding memories, secrets, and countless stories.
26. The Ring in “The Lord of the Rings (TV adaptations)”: The One Ring is imbued with a will of its own, seducing and corrupting those who possess it.
27. Mystic Falls in “The Vampire Diaries”: The town, with its history of supernatural events, seems to have its own character, influencing and reacting to the myriad of events that occur.
28. Stars Hollow in “Gilmore Girls”: The town is a living, breathing entity, with its quirks, moods, and traditions that deeply impact the lives of Lorelai and Rory.
29. The Bluth Company Stair Car in “Arrested Development”: More than just a mode of transport, it’s a symbol of the Bluth family’s downfall and becomes an almost comedic character in its own right.
30. Greendale in “Sabrina the Teenage Witch”: The town, with its magical inhabitants and occurrences, takes on a personality of its own, hovering between the mundane and the mystical.
31. The Conners’ House in “Roseanne”: The house isn’t just a setting; it’s a silent witness to the ups and downs of the Conner family, echoing their struggles, joys, and everyday life.
32. The Paper in “The Office”: Dunder Mifflin’s paper products, while inanimate, seem to take on a life of their own, influencing office dynamics and being at the center of many episodes.
33. Pawnee in “Parks and Recreation”: The town’s character, with its quirky residents and absurd town meetings, becomes a vibrant backdrop that’s almost as central as the main characters.
34. The Briefcase in “Deal or No Deal”: While merely a container for money, the suspense it carries, the hopes and the dreams it represents, make it a central character in every episode.
35. The Coat in “Sherlock”: Sherlock’s iconic coat, fluttering in the London breeze, almost seems to have its own personality, becoming synonymous with the detective’s presence.
36. Sunnydale in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”: This town isn’t merely a backdrop. Its Hellmouth location makes it a living, breathing entity with a magnet for supernatural activities, influencing the lives of Buffy and her friends.
37. The Time Vortex in “Doctor Who”: Beyond its function as a time-travel conduit, it possesses an energy and force that challenges even the Doctor’s understanding, often acting as both ally and adversary.
38. The Litchfield Penitentiary in “Orange is the New Black”: More than a prison, it serves as a microcosm of society, reflecting the dreams, hopes, and despair of its inmates, behaving almost as a sentient entity.
39. The Umbrella in “How I Met Your Mother”: This ordinary object, which passes between characters, seems to take on a life of its own, symbolizing fate, love, and serendipitous connections.
40. The Motherboard in “ReBoot”: The central computer system, while being a program, embodies the heart and soul of the digital realm, directing and influencing events.
41. The Piano in “The Piano” (TV adaptations): It’s not just a musical instrument; it embodies Ada’s voice, her suppressed emotions, and her struggles.
42. Neptune in “Veronica Mars”: The city, with its social hierarchies and dark underbelly, becomes an active player in Veronica’s detective tales.
43. The House in “The Haunting of Hill House”: It’s not just a haunted mansion but a living entity with memories, grudges, and a dark allure that pulls at its inhabitants.
44. The Football in “Friday Night Lights”: While a mere sports equipment, its influence over the town, the dreams it carries, and the futures it shapes make it much more than leather and lace.
45. The Map in “Dora the Explorer”: This animated object not only provides directions but offers support, guidance, and enthusiasm, becoming a trusted companion in Dora’s adventures.
46. The Hotel in “Fawlty Towers”: The establishment, with its quirks and unpredictable happenings, feels like a character constantly challenging Basil Fawlty’s patience.
47. The Newsroom in “The Newsroom”: It serves as more than a workplace; it’s the heart of news, drama, ethics, and emotions, reacting to and shaping the events of the world outside.
48. The Bar in “Cheers”: The setting isn’t just a place to drink; it’s where friendships are forged, hearts are broken, and stories unfold, becoming a sanctuary for regulars.
49. The Playground in “Recess”: For the kids, it’s not just swings and slides; it’s a realm of politics, friendships, and adventures, echoing the dynamics of the larger world outside.
50. The Loft in “New Girl”: More than a shared living space, it’s the crucible for friendships, romances, misunderstandings, and comedic situations, behaving almost as a silent observer to the residents’ evolving relationships.
51. The TARDIS in “Doctor Who”: More than just a time machine, the TARDIS has a soul, consciousness, and even feelings, often interacting with the Doctor and companions in profound ways.
52. Chatsworth Estate in “Shameless”: The neighborhood isn’t merely a setting; it’s a living, breathing ecosystem that influences, nurtures, and challenges the Gallagher family at every turn.
53. The Iron Suit in “Iron Man (TV adaptations)”: While it’s a piece of advanced technology, it almost shares a bond with Tony Stark, evolving with him and responding to his emotional states.
54. Sacred Heart Hospital in “Scrubs”: This isn’t just a medical facility; it’s a vibrant entity where life, death, love, and comedy intersect, influencing the journeys of the medical staff.
55. The RV in “Breaking Bad”: Beyond its function as a meth lab, it’s a symbol of Walter White’s descent into the criminal world, holding secrets and memories of pivotal events.
56. Sterling Cooper Office in “Mad Men”: The ad agency is more than a workplace; it embodies the changing American dreams, societal norms, and ambitions of the characters.
57. The White House in “The West Wing”: It’s not just a symbol of power; it’s a dynamic entity where ideals, politics, and personal dramas play out, impacting the course of the nation.
58. The Lexx in “Lexx”: The living ship, with its own consciousness, desires, and fears, becomes an integral character in the intergalactic adventures.
59. The List in “Arrow”: Not merely a piece of paper, it’s a symbol of justice, vengeance, and redemption, guiding Oliver Queen’s journey as the Green Arrow.
60. The Boardroom in “The Apprentice”: More than a meeting place, it becomes a battleground of ambition, strategy, and drama, reflecting the competitive world of business.
61. Downton Abbey in “Downton Abbey”: The grand estate is not just brick and mortar; it’s the heart and soul of the Crawley family, holding centuries of history, secrets, and societal changes.
62. The Throne Room in “The Tudors”: Beyond its opulent decor, it’s a space where power plays, love affairs, and historical decisions shape the course of English history.
63. Neptune’s Diner in “Twin Peaks”: A regular eatery on the surface, but it seems to hold the essence of the town’s mysteries, secrets, and the duality of its inhabitants.
64. The Diner in “Pulp Fiction (TV adaptations)”: More than a place for food, it becomes a convergence point of destinies, decisions, and philosophical discussions.
65. The Diary in “Vampire Diaries”: It’s not just a record of events; it’s an intimate confidant, holding the deepest emotions, secrets, and transformations of the characters.
66. The Island in “Lost”: Far from a mere geographical location, the island seems to have a consciousness, a will, and mysteries, shaping the fates of all who find themselves upon it.
67. The Dragonstone Map Table in “Game of Thrones”: More than a piece of furniture, it’s a strategic battleground, symbolizing power shifts, alliances, and the constant tug of war for the Iron Throne.
68. Greendale Community College in “Community”: It’s not just an educational institution, but a microcosm of society with its own unique quirks, dynamics, and soul.
69. The Narrator in “Jane the Virgin”: While not a physical entity, the narrator has its own personality, bringing humor, irony, and an additional layer of storytelling to the show.
70. Holodeck in “Star Trek: The Next Generation”: It’s more than a simulation chamber; it embodies the dreams, nightmares, desires, and fears of the crew, often blurring the lines between reality and fiction.
71. Sunnydale High School Library in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”: Not merely a place for books, it’s the hub of supernatural activity, strategy sessions, and is essentially the heart of the Slayer’s operations.
72. The Murder House in “American Horror Story: Murder House”: More than a haunted residence, the house seems to possess an insatiable hunger for souls, influencing the fates of its inhabitants.
73. Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe in “Riverdale”: This diner is not just about burgers and shakes; it’s the epicenter of the town’s gossip, secrets, and many pivotal events.
74. The Peach Pit in “Beverly Hills, 90210”: Beyond a hangout spot, it’s the heartbeat of the community, a witness to the ups and downs, romances, and dramas of a generation.
75. The Study Room in “Community”: While it’s a place for group studies, it’s also where friendships are tested, romances bloom, and many of the show’s comedic events unfold.
76. The Red Room in “Twin Peaks”: It isn’t just a dream space; it embodies the town’s mysteries, the battle between good and evil, and serves as a portal to the unknown.
77. The Car in “Supernatural”: Dean’s 1967 Chevrolet Impala is not just transportation; it’s a companion, a home, a witness to countless battles, and carries the legacy of the Winchester family.
78. Mode Magazine in “Ugly Betty”: More than a fashion publication, it’s a battleground of ambitions, dreams, scandals, and serves as a mirror to the complexities of the media world.
79. The Staircase in “The Haunting of Bly Manor”: Not just a structure, it becomes a haunting symbol of memories, lost souls, and the many secrets of the manor.
80. The Radio in “Frasier”: Beyond a communication device, it represents Frasier’s voice to the world, his struggles, accomplishments, and the comic misadventures of his radio therapy sessions.
81. The Iron Throne in “Game of Thrones”: More than a chair, it embodies power, ambition, and the bloodshed of Westeros, acting as a magnet that draws characters into a perilous dance of politics and war.
82. Central Perk in “Friends”: Beyond a coffeehouse, it’s the epicenter of friendships, heartbreaks, laughs, and countless memorable moments for our beloved group of six.
83. The Portrait Hole in “Harry Potter (TV adaptations)”: Not just an entrance, it holds the Gryffindor spirit, guarding its students and sharing in their victories and losses.
84. The Cigarette Smoking Man in “The X-Files”: While a human, his constant presence turns him into a personified enigma, representing the vast and shadowy conspiracy Mulder and Scully confront.
85. The Bluth Banana Stand in “Arrested Development”: It’s not merely a business; it’s a symbol of the Bluth family’s rise and fall, and a constant reminder that “there’s always money in the banana stand.”
86. The Police Box in “Broadchurch”: Standing silent on the beach, it becomes a silent observer to the town’s secrets, grief, and the unraveling mystery of a boy’s death.
87. The Carousel in “Mad Men”: More than an ad pitch, the carousel becomes a symbol of nostalgia, memories, and Don Draper’s complex relationship with his past.
88. The Peach Trees in “Desperate Housewives”: Beyond vegetation, they bear witness to the secrets, scandals, and everyday life of Wisteria Lane’s residents.
89. The Paddy’s Pub in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”: Not just a bar, it’s the stage for the gang’s hilarious, bizarre, and often morally questionable antics.
90. The Dollhouse in “Pretty Little Liars”: More than a captive space, it reflects the manipulations, fears, and the unseen puppeteer pulling the strings of the main characters.
91. The Conner’s Living Room in “Roseanne”: Beyond a family space, it’s a reflection of middle-class America, holding the dreams, struggles, laughs, and stories of the Conner family.
92. The Bridge in “Star Trek: Enterprise”: Not just a command center, it embodies the spirit of exploration, the challenges of the unknown, and the unity of the crew.
93. The Diner in “Gilmore Girls”: More than a place to eat, it’s where life happens for the residents of Stars Hollow, echoing their stories, romances, and community spirit.
94. The Red Door in “The Mentalist”: Symbolizing Patrick Jane’s tragic past, it’s not just an entrance but a constant reminder of the mystery he’s determined to solve.
95. The Pool Table in “The Queen’s Gambit (TV adaptations)”: It’s not just for games; it symbolizes Beth Harmon’s journey, challenges, and her evolving relationship with the game of chess.
96. The Music Room in “Glee”: Beyond a rehearsal space, it’s where dreams are born, friendships forged, rivalries sparked, and where the magic of music brings diverse individuals together.
97. The Blue Barracuda in “The Office”: It’s not just a fish; it’s a silent observer to the hilarious antics, relationships, and everyday life of Dunder Mifflin’s employees.
98. The Choir Room in “Sister Act (TV adaptations)”: More than a practice area, it’s the heart of transformation, unity, and where music becomes a force for change.
99. The Beach in “Baywatch”: Beyond sand and sea, it’s a place of heroism, drama, romance, and the ever-watchful eyes of the lifeguards.
100. The Forest in “Stranger Things”: It’s not merely trees and paths; it’s the gateway to another world, holding mysteries, dangers, and the echoes of a parallel dimension.
The examples derive from the famous Disney animated movie, where many inanimate objects in the Beast’s castle come to life with human characteristics due to a curse. Objects like Lumière the candelabra, Cogsworth the clock, and Mrs. Potts the teapot, all exhibit human behaviors, emotions, and even physical movements.
The examples showcase various TV show characters or objects that have been given human-like characteristics for comedic effect. For instance, Marcel, the monkey from “Friends,” isn’t just portrayed as a typical monkey but has human-like quirks and interests, which adds humor to the show.
These Examples will explore how various Netflix shows attribute human characteristics, emotions, or actions to non-human entities, be they animals, objects, or abstract concepts, to enhance narrative depth, character development, and viewer engagement.
Personification, when employed skillfully in TV narratives, establishes a deep connection with viewers. By giving non-human entities human-like attributes, it bridges the gap between reality and fiction, making fictional worlds more accessible and believable.
1. Understand Your Subject: Before assigning human traits to an object or concept, understand its inherent characteristics. This will ensure that the personification feels organic and not forced.
2. Subtlety is Key: Overdoing personification can make the narrative seem childish or amateur. The trick is to weave in human attributes subtly, making them almost unnoticeable.
3. Use Relatable Emotions: Drawing from universal emotions ensures that your audience can easily relate. Whether it’s the loneliness of a forgotten toy or the anger of a storm, tapping into widely understood feelings is crucial.
4. Remember the Purpose: Personification should always serve the narrative. It shouldn’t be added just for the sake of it. Every instance of personification should push the story forward or add a layer of depth.
1. Avoid Stereotyping: It’s easy to fall into the trap of using cliched human attributes. Challenge the norms and think outside the box.
2. Engage the Senses: Making the audience see, hear, touch, taste, or smell through personification can make for compelling storytelling.
3. Show, Don’t Tell: Instead of stating the personification outright, show it through actions. For instance, instead of saying “the wind was angry,” show trees being violently swayed by it.
4. Use it Sparingly: Like any other literary device, personification is most effective when not overused. The goal is to enhance the narrative, not overshadow it.
Personification has been a staple in literature and has found its rightful place in television as well. When done right, it can elevate a TV show, making it memorable and resonant. By understanding its essence and employing it judiciously, writers can craft stories that linger in viewers’ minds, stories that are relatable, touching, and profoun