1. Tinky Winky, Teletubbies
The alpha of the clan; often cleaning up after the others.
Why so tough? “Tinky Winky gently ensures that the other Teletubbies are safe and fed so magical fun is all they have to worry about. His tough-guy energy is generous, playful and kind. A good leader lives by example as one of the brotherhood rather than removed from it and immune to its rules. He is calm, accepting and beyond the fearful control of a busy head.”
2. Geordi La Forge, Star Trek
Thoughtful, blind chief engineer of the USS Enterprise.
Why so tough? “Geordi accepts what is and senses what might be. He responds to attack with playful precision, too mature for aggression and other toxic traits. The modern man is a team player, accepting his weaknesses and empowering others. He commands authority and explores things with an open heart and mind.”
3. Davos, Game of Thrones
Kind-hearted smuggler with a fondness for taking people under his wing.
Why so tough? “Davos respects authority and speaks with the sobering tone of a mature man. He’s unshakingly true to his values and fearless of consequence, but his true strength comes from empathy. He holds his power with confident grace and he uses a firm tone and clear boundaries to move through danger with the blessing of those he serves.”
4. Peter Townsend, The Crown
Princess Margaret’s lover; painfully but nobly gives up their relationship.
Why so tough? “Peter honoured what’s best for Queen and country before his own heart and happiness. A modern man puts others before his own needs. He acts for the greater good, engineering the nuts and bolts of practical change. In Peter’s case, this meant gentlemanly dignity that starved the tabloids of the trauma they wanted.”
5. Mike Ehrmantraut, Breaking Bad
Grumpy, tight-lipped henchman of drug kingpin Gus Fring.
Why so tough? “The driving force behind Mike is love. He’s focused on his mission to protect, provide for and love the women in his life. Nothing else exists. His violence is precise and functional; it’s not about being a tough guy for the boys. His sense of self leaves little space for what others think. Plus, he can openly share his feminine side.”
6. Cutty, The Wire
Gangster-gone-good who ditches drug pushing for mentoring underprivileged teens.
Why so tough? “Cutty is man enough to choose how to live his life. He’s powerful in vulnerability, risking his community, his lifestyle and unknown consequences by giving it all up. Cutty represents the independent man who transcends his tribe to live a conscious life that’s true to himself and to give other a better start than he had.”
7. Mr Carson, Downton Abbey
Sagacious butler to the Crawley family; always available for advice.
Why so tough? “Carson is like an old oak: solid with grounded roots so he can extend supportive arms. He’s safe enough in his own emotional stability to look after others as they break through old barriers and live beyond their fears. He holds them with calm words or in silence if needed, then gently ushers them forth with courage and trust.”
8. Laird, Girls
Ex-junkie left to bring up a baby when the mother leaves without warning.
Why so tough? “Laird is tough enough to side-step his issues and habits, allowing his nurturing instincts to lead a life in service of [his baby] Sample. Such a profound change in perspective and priorities overrides personal issues, drugs and dramas, bringing him a fresh, stable start. Like the best modern men, Laird sobers up from party life and steps up when life demands.”
9. Grandpa, Hey Arnold!
Wise old patriarch with a fondness for a story.
Why so tough? “Grandpa wins people over with his vulnerability. He doesn’t need to bully or bark: his power comes from his disarming honesty and, of course, his tall tales. The modern man is free enough to playfully enjoy the dramas of life rather than fret, try to fix and thus feed disharmony. Grandpa, instead, is articulate, funny and naturally shares his simple wisdom.”
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(Illustrations: Guy Shields)