Primetime Bioethics: Human Dignity Edition



CBHD often receives requests from educators and other individuals for popular resources that engage bioethics through various media (fiction, film, and television). In this resource, we offer a recap of materials relevant to human dignity and personhood that have premiered on television. Viewers are cautioned that the shows represent a wide variety of genres and may not be appropriate for all audiences. They are encouraged to read annotations/synopses available through such websites as or If there is a show you think we missed, email us at


Human Dignity / Personhood

  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013–2020, TV-PG)
    • The missions of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division (IMDB description).
    • (Topics: Artificial Intelligence, Cyborg, Genetic Engineering, Human Enhancement, Neuroethics, Personhood, Radical Life Extension, Research Ethics, Transhumanism/Posthumanism, Virtual Reality)
  • Black Mirror (2011–present, TV-MA)
    • An anthology series exploring a twisted, high-tech multiverse where humanity's greatest innovations and darkest instincts collide (IMDB description).
    • (Topics: Virtual reality, Consciousness Uploading, Privacy, Human Enhancement)
  • Caprica (2009–2010, TV-14)
    • This prequel to Battlestar Galactica sets the stage 50 years before the latter, showing how a startling advance in artificial intelligence sets in motion a series of unintended consequences leading to the emergence of the Cyclons and their subsequent wars with humans.
    • (Topics: Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Uploading, Cyborgs, Human-Computer Interface, Personhood, Robotics)
  • Dark Matter (2015–2017, TV-14)
    • In the dystopian 27th century, six people wake up on a deserted spaceship with no memory of who they are or what they're doing there. They reluctantly team up and set off to find answers with the help of a female android (IMDB description).
    • (Topics: Artificial Intelligence, Genetic Engineering, Human Enhancement, Nanotechnology, Personhood, Robotics)
  • Electric Dreams (2018, TV-MA)
    • A sci-fi anthology series with stand-alone episodes based on the works of Philip K. Dick (IMDB description).
    • (Topics: Synthetic Life, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Free Will and Determinism)
  • Humans (2015–2018, TV-14)
    • Set in a parallel present where the latest must-have gadget for any busy family is a ‘Synth’—a highly-developed robotic servant that’s so similar to a real human it’s transforming the way we live (adapted from IMDB description).
    • (Topics: Artificial Intelligence, Synthetic Life, Human Enhancement, Brain-Computer Interface)
  • Person of Interest (2011–2016, TV-14)
    • An ex-CIA agent and a wealthy programmer save lives via a surveillance AI that sends them the identities of civilians involved in impending crimes. However, the details of the crimes, including the civilians' roles, are left a mystery (IMDB description).
    • (Topics: Artificial Intelligence, Human-Machine Interactions, Personhood, Privacy)



Updated Summer 2019