Manifesto Multilinko
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Tuesday, May 25, 2010
American theo-science-fiction

SPOILERS for lots of TV shows.

American television SF has an odd attribute, which is that it always seems to turn into messianic theo-fiction, rather than SF. This is pretty strange considering the core audience is very science and not so much religious, and traditional written SF is generally all science, no religion. The lead character always starts out as a scientific person, a sceptic, and (in a very unusual situation for SF) ends up a believer, trusting in Faith.

* Quantum Leap - he's some kind of saint figure being jumped around time by ?God?
* TNG - Picard starts out a man of science, ends up trusting in his faith in himself in the finale, fighting evil (Q, an evil-ish godlike figure)
* DS9 - Sisko starts out a sceptic, ends up as the messiah fighting evil
* X Files - Scully starts out a sceptic, ends up a Believer fighting the bad guys
* Babylon 5 - Jeffrey Sinclair ends up some kinda messiah. John Sheridan is ALSO a messiah.
* BSG - starts all science-y, ends with Baltar as some kinda messiah and Starbuck as an angel
* Lost - Jack starts out a sceptic, ends up as the messiah fighting evil

I could go on, but you get the idea. All American TV SF turns into theo-fiction. Are there any recent counter-examples?

It's also interesting that the shows have infinite forgiveness. Baltar is a total tool, responsible for the deaths of billions, but he gets to live on in the end. Ben Linus is a weak scheming murderous man, but he gets to work for "god" in the end anyway.