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Television’s Greatest Leaders of the Last Decade

The past ten years of television have
given us many incredible leaders of men, but I wanted to pay homage
to the cream of crop. Making the cut are the most benevolent, the
most selfless, and the the most determined of commanders. Their
domains range from entire countries down to single departments, but
they are all inspiring figures and deserve recognition for their
roles in modern television.

Josiah Bartlet (The
West Wing
)

I’m
confident in your loyalty to me. I’m confident in your love for me.
If you lie to protect me, if you lie just once, if you lie just a
little, if you lie because you can’t stand what’s happening to me and
the people making it happen; if you ever, ever lie, you’re finished
with me. You understand?”

In its two terms, “Jed” Bartlet’s presidency saw more than its
fair share of ups and downs, but throughout it all he acted with the
nobility and honor usually reserved for storybook kings. Like all
great leaders he was not perfect, but he came closer than any real
president ever could. Of his many qualifications, it was his skills
as an orator that cemented his position on the list. Whether it was
a few words amongst the staff or a speech addressing the nation,
Bartlet’s monologues were so moving it was hard not to applaud during
them. He could make you laugh when you felt like crying and make you
stand tall when you felt like cowering in fear. His words gave all
who listened hope of a better tomorrow and provided comfort during
the darkest hours. Bartlet led the nation with intelligence,
foresight, and fortitude, speaking with the conviction that few men
can muster – that Nobel Prize in Economics didn’t hurt either.

William
Adama
(Battlestar
Galactica
)

Take a good
look at the men and women that stand next to you. Remember their
faces, for one day you will tell your children and your grandchildren
that you served with such men and women as the universe has never
seen. And together, you’ll accomplish the feat that will be told and
retold down through the ages, and find immortality as only the gods
once knew. I’m proud to serve with you. Good hunting.”

Adama
was the man you would want giving the orders in the heat of battle,
the man you knew would do his best to bring his crew home safely.
The gravel-voiced, former fighter pilot saw action in both Cylon
wars, and commanded the
Galactica
through its most perilous moments. In addition to his military
prowess, Adama often served as Laura Roslin’s conscience. He
supplemented her cold and calculating form of leadership with the
warmth of someone who sees casualties as more than just numbers on a
page. He grieved with his crew during their defeats, and celebrated
with them in times of victory, while never forgetting those who gave
their lives under his command. The hardest conflicts he faced were
always within himself though. Adama’s struggle with the anger and
guilt that constantly threatened to consume him only made him more
endearing. He is as flawed and broken as humanity itself, but still
rises to the challenge, never backing down from the fight going on
inside him, or the one on the battlefield.

Jack
Shephard
(Lost)

Last week
most of us were strangers, but we’re all here now. And god knows how
long we’re going to be here. But if we can’t live together, we’re
gonna die alone.”

Perhaps
the most conflicted of those on the list, Jack fought against the
very idea of being a leader. He was thrust into the role by the
fellow survivors of Flight 815, who sought his guidance after he
established himself as a man worthy of being followed – even more
so because he never asked them to. The inner turmoil he faced
ensured his ego never swelled, but it was his compassion that earned
him a spot in this feature. Jack’s altruistic nature is clear from
his first moments on the island, when he is frantically rushing to
save as many lives as he can. The inborn concern he feels for others
would wax and wane over the course of the series, but even when he
tried, he could never shake it completely. In the end, Jack would
make the ultimate sacrifice to save his friends, followers, and the
world itself. Proving no matter what he had done in the past, he was
still the man they could count on.

Daenerys
Targaryen
(Game
of Thrones
)

I am
Daenerys Stormborn, of House Targaryen, of the blood of old Valyria.
I am the dragon’s daughter! And I swear to you that those who would
harm you will die screaming.”

Though Daenerys is still coming into her own, she is doing so more
quickly than anyone not familiar with the novels would have thought
possible. The series started with her as nothing more than a milksop
and trophy wife, but it wasn’t long before she became the Dothraki’s
Khaleesi(queen). In learning to command her people she showed the
adaptability and strength needed of a leader. She’s hardened from a
girl kowtowing to her brother’s wishes, to a woman that didn’t flinch
when he died screaming for her mercy. Dany is no more cruel than the
world she lives in, and only to those who cross her. Even after her
husband’s untimely death and most of her army abandoning her, Dany
did not throw in the towel, only strengthened her resolve to take
back the throne her family once held. Those that stayed have seen
her literally walk into fire to earn their loyalty, and she came out
of that fire with something more powerful than a hundred armies. The
only question is: how long does it take for dragons to reach
adulthood?

Ron
Swanson
(Parks
and Recreation
)

Under my
tutelage you will grow from boys into men, from men into gladiators,
and from gladiators into Swansons!”

He
might not run a country or command an intergalactic warship, but Ron
Swanson is the mold from which all leaders should be struck. By
itself his mustache could make a better ruler than any real or
fictional person ever would. The director of the Pawnee Parks
Department doesn’t rule with an iron fist, but rather one wrapped
around a glass of scotch. The bitter libertarian wears his contempt
for the government on his sleeve; which is exactly why he should be
in charge of it all. His plans for privatizing every facet of the
political structure might not sit well with some, but that hasn’t
stopped fans of
Parks
and Recreation

from dreaming of a White House run by Ron Swanson. An inspiration to
men around the world, the character even created a set of rules
dubbed, “The Swanson Pyramid of Greatness,” just so everyone can
be a little more like him; and the world a better place for it.

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