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Top 10 TV Character Comas

Cason Murphy - September 25, 2009


Tonight, you don't have to be a psychic to find the return of Medium as it makes its high profile switch from NBC to its new home at CBS. The finale of last season - coupled with NBC's decision to not pick up the sixth season - left viewers searching for answers as Allison DuBois dropped off into a coma after a critical surgery on an aggressive tumor located on her brainstem.


We here at TV Tango will be there when she wakes up - but to get in the mood, we dug through some medical files of characters from series and made-for-TV-movies at the Dr. James Kildare Memorial Hospital to find 10 of the most notable coma cases.




Marcia Cross
on the TV series,
Melrose Place (FOX, 1992)

Patient Name: Dr. Kimberly Shaw Mancini


Cause of Injury: Drunk driving car accident


Patient History: In the Shaw family, the apple must not fall far from the tree, since this redhead's mom said Kim flatlined - but a string of murders, a babynapping, and some poolside pyrotechnics proved Kimberly's return from the "dead" awakened a monstrous Ms. Hyde in the formerly delicate doctor.


Diagnosis: The "She Wasn't Really Dead" Coma


Outcomes: Drastic personality change, labile emotional responses, and reactionary aggression.




Drew Carey
on the TV series,
The Drew Carey Show (ABC, 1995)

Patient Name: Drew Allison Carey


Cause of Injury: Car accident


Patient History: Drew's accident sent his consciousness into a world of bikini models, pizza trees, and Mimi slavishly fulfilling his every request. Is it really a surprise that Drew was begging St. Peter to let him in the Pearly Gates when the alternative is heading back down to "The Mistake by the Lake"?


Diagnosis: The "Traumatic Brain Injury Can Be Fun" Coma


Outcomes: Existence in dream-like fantasy state, disinterest in personal well-being, and unconscious aversion to medical treatment.




Tori Spelling
on the TV movie,
Awake to Danger (NBC, 1995)

Patient Name: Aimee McAdams


Cause of Injury: Head trauma suffered from falling down a flight of stairs


Patient History: Having fallen while running from a man killing her mother, Aimee must jog her memory to piece together the murder - all the while trying to stay one step ahead of the killer who didn't think to just take care of Aimee at the bottom of the stairwell in the first place.


Diagnosis: The "Amnesia Always Enhances Plot Structure" Coma


Outcomes: Post-traumatic amnesia, loss of appetite, and excessive stress due to constant fear.




Ken Kercheval
on the TV series,
Dallas (CBS, 1978)

Patient Name: Clifford "Cliff" Barnes


Cause of Injury: Failed suicide attempt


Patient History: Prior to his suicide attempt, Cliff managed to make a Texas-sized mess out of his life. By running his mother's company into bankruptcy and botching his one chance of snatching Sue Ellen's love away from J.R., Cliff opted to take the coward's way out…and even couldn't get that right.


Diagnosis: The "Tune In Next Season" Coma


Outcomes: Thoughts of self-harm, loss of sexual drive, and withdrawal from social situations.




Charisma Carpenter
on the TV series,
Angel (WB, 1999)

Patient Name: Cordelia Chase


Cause of Injury: Left unconscious by "birthing" Jasmine, an evil Deity that controlled her body


Patient History: Cordelia's mind and body just couldn't handle the fact that the malevolent spirit that she was harboring inside of her forced her to sleep with a boy she used to babysit in what might be the first case of a being bringing about its own conception through demon-proxy pedophilia.


Diagnosis: The "Possessed Postnatal" Coma


Outcomes: Demonic possession, postpartum depression, and detachment from worldly obligations.




Alec Baldwin
on the TV movie,
Second Nature (TNT, 2003)

Patient Name: Paul Kane


Cause of Injury: Helicopter crash


Patient History: When Paul awakes from his coma, everything - from his family down to his memory of what he last had for lunch - is gone. However, when his shadowy former boss sends in assailants to kill him, the less-than-svelte Paul must wheezingly punch, kick, and fight his way towards the truth of who he is.


Diagnosis: The "Poor Man's Bourne Identity" Coma


Outcomes: Dissociative fugue, subconscious knowledge of self-defense techniques, and delusions of government persecution.




Lindsay Wagner
on the TV movie,
She Woke Up (ABC, 1992)

Patient Name: Claudia Parr


Cause of Injury: Failed murder attempt


Patient History: Claudia awakens not as a frail, frightened female but as a women who takes the law into her own hands as she sifts through possible attackers (including her closest friends and family) and gets her own kind of revenge.


Diagnosis: The "Victim with a Vengeance" Coma


Outcomes: Paranoia, reclusiveness, and intense suspicion of family members.




James Denton
on the TV series,
Desperate Housewives (ABC, 2004)

Patient Name: Michael "Mike" Delfino


Cause of Injury: Hit-and-run accident with his neighbor, Orson


Patient History: When this contract-killer-turned-plumber turned up in Orson's orthodontics chair after nearly exposing the root of the dentist's lies the previous year, Mike then found himself in front of Orson's fender- but really, wouldn't a healthy dose of Novocaine be easier on everyone involved?


Diagnosis: The "Hit and Run" Coma


Outcomes: Retrograde amnesia and a new girlfriend -- until he was sent to prison.




Elizabeth Montgomery
on the TV movie,
Between the Darkness and the Dawn (NBC, 1985)

Patient Name: Abigail Foster


Cause of Injury: Advanced stage of encephalitis virus


Patient History: After two decades, Abigail wakes up as a 17-year-old in a 37-year-old's body. She must come to terms with the fact that her high-school sweetheart is now married to her competitive little sister, and she must adapt to life with new technology -- ATMs and stereo headphones.


Diagnosis: The "20 Years Later" Coma


Outcomes: Juvenile emotional processes, temporal confusion, and body dysmorphic disorder caused by emotional-physical age difference.




Anthony Michael Hall
on the TV series,
Dead Zone (USA, 2002)

Patient Name: John Robert "Johnny" Smith


Cause of Injury: Car accident


Patient History: A preexisting head injury Johnny had from an ice rink fall at age 6 causes the car crash to open up the "dead zone" of his brain and glimpse the past and future with a narrow window of time to change what he sees - in a show just asking to be packaged with a "Do Not Try At Home" sticker.


Diagnosis: The "Superpsychic Powers" Coma


Outcomes: Minor brain trauma, possible development of bipolar tendencies, and ability to see visions of past and future.




Did we blackout and forget your favorite TV character's coma? Don't just sit there in a stupor - leave us a comment!


Cason Murphy started in the entertainment business at the age of three when he "picked a rabbit out of his hat" during a tap recital - and hasn't had the good sense to get out yet. When he's not selling his soul to academia at UCLA's School of Theater, Film & Television, he is making good use of his DVR.