TV shows and movies have always tried to imitate life, perhaps that’s why we often find relatable characters and stories in books, movies and TV. And we often find ourselves trying to connect or identify ourselves with characters who go through experiences similar to our own.
Although most of these characters are not officially diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, many people with BPD have found relatable traits in these fictional characters. When you live with borderline personality disorder, sometime finding a relatable character can validate your experiences, making you feel less alone and somehow more understood.
Harley Quinn from Marvel Comics
With pink and blue frosted ponytails, ripped clothing and an ear-to-ear grin, it won’t take you long to realise that something isn’t quite right with this femme fatal. Most will simply label her “crazy”, but others have gone as far as to question what mental illness Harley Quinn would suffer from. While Quinn has some BPD traits like fear of abandonment, idolizing, impulsiveness and a history of aggression and abuse, there are also many stones still left unturned.
Clementine from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Clementine (Kate Winslet) is a charismatic and impulsive character. She often changes her mind and feels emotions intensely (relatable, huh?). But she’s also honest and vulnerable with everyone she meets. Though she’s never given a mental health diagnosis in the movie, some believe Clem is a good representation of borderline personality disorder. As the movie progresses, we see that some of the “free-spirited” behaviors she exhibits are indicative of some deeper issues.
Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars
Although often painted as the “villain”, even as a kid, it’s important to acknowledge this doesn’t mean people with BPD are evil. His general character before he turns into Darth Vader has been described by professionals as someone with BPD. The preoccupations with abandonment and loss, intense passion, sensitivity, anger, impulsiveness, paranoid ideation about betrayal, the frequent shifts between what he thinks and feels and feelings of being lost, empty and unsure of one’s identity and true self are all relatable to many people living with BPD.
Jessica Jones from Marvel Comics
Broken but powerful. A survivor. Many people with BPD can see their own strength through Jessica Jones. She wants to be loved and is constantly afraid of losing the ones she cares about. Trauma impacts people in different ways, ways that can be isolating, tragic, destructive, and compelling, eliciting from others the compassion for human suffering that each of us holds. However, part of what makes the story of Jessica Jones so compelling is not that her story is so tragic, her powers so extraordinary, or her reactions so dramatic. While all of the above are true, what really draws people in is how human she is.
The Hulk from Marvel Comics
It’s no secret that The Hulk struggles with his identity and emotions, which are often intense and unpredictable. Some people don’t understand him, others love him and some fear him. He feels his a danger to those who love him. He regrets a lot of things. He spends a lot of time in isolation to protect the ones he loves.
BoJack Horseman tackles a lot of topics through a lot of characters, but BoJack’s is focused on the judgment he passes on himself. Throughout the show, it became increasingly apparent that this character was living with borderline personality disorder and that the things people told him were so emblematic of the way people with BPD are treated like unsolvable problems. BoJack reminds us that even we were to understand we fit all the criteria for a BPD diagnosis, people with BPD often receive baised care or are refused treatment altogether.
Elsa from Frozen
Elsa isolates herself because of her powers and lack of control she has on them. She’s told all her life by her parents to “conceal, don’t feel, don’t let it show” which is very relatable for many people living with BPD. People often tell Elsa to “don’t show her emotions” and to “control herself”.
Some people believe Daria really cared but instead she chose to put on an “I don’t care” façade to keep from letting the world hurt her. So, yes, that is indeed relatable to some people with BPD who prefer living in a nutshell to protect themselves.
Mickey from Love
She struggles with dependency issues for love, sex and drugs. The show depicts her struggles with relationships and her difficult relationship with her father. She has a difficult time dealing with separation from her partner and she is constantly self-sabotaging. She is so relatable as someone with BPD. Love is actually one of the few shows that got BPD (almost) right.
Rapunzel from Tangled
All those intense emotions at once have made some people with BPD relate to Rapunzel. Watching Rapunzel’s journey, from believing and trusting everything her mother says, to questioning it, to feeling doubt and self-loathing, to finally breaking free — when at last, she “sees the light” — mirrors the journey so many of us here have gone through.
Rebecca Bunch from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Rebecca is one of the few characters who actually has a BPD diagnosis, which is first mentioned in season 3. This character goes through quite a journey since she dumped her pills in the pilot and took a chance on moving to West Covina to find love and happiness. Many people diagnosed with BPD who have watched the show can relate with some Rebecca’s traits:
«Rebecca Bunch! Not just because of her diagnosed BPD, but because [of] her impulsiveness [in] anything and everything, and her intense guilt magnified into her self-loathing. Literally my life». — Sarah H.
Susanna Kaysen and Lisa Rowe from Girl, Interrupted
Susanna Kaysen (Winona Ryder’s character) is officially diagnosed with BPD in Girl, Interrupted. Though Susanna actually has a diagnosis of BPD, some believe the diagnosis doesn’t fit, and instead identify more with Lisa Rowe (Angelina Jolie). While the movie is humanizing in many aspects, some have argued that it goes too far, romanticizing mental illness and associating it with being “cool but misunderstood”.
Have you ever connected or have you ever seen yourself reflected in another character or story in movies or TV? Tell us about it! You can also check out our Top 5 BPD Movies.