Television's Greenest Characters

Photo: iStock/flisk
Meet the small-screen idols who have spoken up for the planet.

The new animated sitcom, The Goode Family, is the latest creation by Mike Judge (famed creator of King of the Hill) about a family who lives so green it hurts. But these TV characters aren’t the first to flaunt their pro-planet attitudes; indeed, there have been many small-screen environmentalists fighting the good fight. Here are a few of the best—from recent TV history.

The Green Hall of Fame

Lisa Simpson, The Simpsons. As one of Springfield’s most vocal resident, the staunchly liberal Lisa shocked her family by going vegetarian in the series’ seventh season. Lisa joins the radical environmental group Dirt First and falls for its green leader, Jesse Grass, a “level-five vegan.” Greenest moment: Lisa battles the villainous Mr. Burns when he opens a plant that makes slurry out of trapped sea animals.

Sami and Lucas, Days of Our Lives. It may come as a surprise, but this daytime soap-opera couple had a green wedding, complete with a cake made of organic flour and free-range eggs, eco-flowers and invitations printed on recycled paper. Greenest moment: Sami’s wedding dress is created from pure silk, one the most eco-friendly fabrics around.

Phoebe Buffay, Friends. The quirky Phoebe is a vegetarian who is against wearing fur, avoids killing ants and holds funerals for dead flowers. While some might argue that her antics flout rather than further the cause, we can’t deny Phoebe her idealism and naively endearing crusades. Greenest moment: Phoebe forces a woman to apologize to a tree after witnessing her stub out a cigarette on it.

Kermit the Frog. This lovable Muppet and environmental all-star is green in more ways than one. In 1996, he gave a commencement speech at Southampton College in which he emphasized his environmentalist side. Greenest moment: In January 2006, Kermit sang “Bein’ Green” in a commercial for the Ford Escape Hybrid and was featured in the print campaign as well.

Jessie Spano, Saved by the Bell. Any child of the ’80s will remember leggy Jessie, one of the six teen sweethearts of Saved By the Bell’ s Bayside High School. She was the show’s resident know-it-all activist, involved in a seemingly overwhelming number of after-school activities. Greenest moment: Jesse rallies the support of her peers when she protests against oil spills and the use of certain toxic products in the Bayside cafeteria.

Summer Roberts, The O.C. In the teen soap’s fourth and final season, the formerly materialistic Summer Roberts began aligning herself with green issues after befriending an environmentalist named Che. She participates in campus protests and later is offered a job working for the fictional environmental organization GEORGE (Global Environmental Organisation Regarding Greenhouse Emissions). Greenest moment: Summer gets expelled after freeing rabbits from a university lab.

Emma Nelson, Degrassi: The Next Generation. Taking a cue from her outspoken mother Spike, Emma is a member of Degrassi’s environmental club and actively involved in various social and environmental causes. Greenest moment: Emma protests against genetically modified food being sold in her school cafeteria, resulting in a food fight and her suspension.

Do you remember…?

Captain Planet, Captain Planet. Alongside the help of the five Planeteers, Captain Planet defended the Earth during its greatest disasters and fought to prevent other disasters from happening. The Planeteers used solar-powered transportation and always delivered a thoughtful message about how we, the viewers, could save the planet in our own little way. Watch reruns online and visit the Captain Planet Foundation, which supports hands-on environmental education projects for kids, for games, downloads and more.

The Suntots, The Smoggies. In this Canadian animated kids’ series that finished airing in 1988, the Suntots were the little guys who always came to save the day when the Smoggies were up to their polluting bad habits.

Are we missing a small-screen saint or sinner who has helped boost the TV’s green quotient? Leave us a comment and let us know!