In 2017, a show called Legion premiered on FX. It was set in the X-Men universe, though you’d hardly know it unless someone warned you in advance (or you knew X-Men comics well). The main character is David Haller, a patient in a mental facility, struggling with voices in his head.
Spoiler: the voices are real.
Of course, this isn’t a typical portrayal of mental issues for television. Creator Noah Hawley had come up with a trippy, psychedelic dream world where reality and psychosis bleed together. The point of view as viewers is unreliable.
Later seasons broaden the scope of the show, but just focusing on the first season, you have a delightfully weird fishbowl existence of a psychic juggernaut whose own issues make him a danger to himself, anyone around him, and possibly reality itself.
Also, as a treat for Mad Men fans, John Hamm narrates some surrealistic philosophical interludes set in a white void and trying to keep viewers at least slightly grounded with the more abstract concepts at work in the show. Everything from the perception of self to the existence of objective good and evil are dissected, pieced back together, and packaged into bite-sized chunks to mull over.
If the show has a weakness, it’s that the protagonist doesn’t have a lot of agency. He’s not in control of his considerable powers (and it’s a while before the show even admits he has powers), and he often comes across as adrift, unwilling to paddle because he doesn’t want to risk going out to sea.
For my money, the character concept was more interesting than David Haller himself. So, the fairly novel archetype was something I was interested in playing with in my own writing.
Enter: Eric Ramsey. I’ve got something cooking where the middle child of Carl and Amy Ramsey is a would-be wizard who got himself expelled from college and doesn’t have all his shit together. He’s not as blatantly broken as David Haller, so I felt I could let him out to run amok in my Black Ocean universe.