I've been considering the lack of scientist/engineer role models in current TV science fiction.
This is in response to some discussions about how TV sci-fi is now just good-looking people kicking ass (all fine and good), but it doesn't inspire the next generation.
I think the strongest science/engineer characters (as role models for future generations) are currently inhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bones_(TV_series)
-- crime dramahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregory_House
-- medical dramahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criminal_Minds
-- crime dramahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fringe_(TV_series)
-- actual scifi (albiet wrapped up as a crime drama)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lie_to_Me
-- crime drama
I mean characters who actually advance the plot by being smart and educated.
In the current culture, science heroes use it for forensics and diagnostics. Fringe being a bit of an exception to the rule.
BSG and Heroes both have scientists as foolish meddlers, or selfish and craven. These are not aspirational. Sarah Conner, yeah, not really a show to make people want to be scientists when it's another Frankenstein do-over. Dollhouse is pretty much the same, the scientist is foolish, craven and deeply lonely. Not an aspirational character at all.
Star Gate & Star Gate Atlantis were OK for showing scientists in a generally good light, the new Battle StarGate: Voyager looks up in the air, as there's two science leads, the old arrogant guy, and the fresh faced maths prodigy gamer dude.
The new Dr Who generally casts scientists as the villain or fool, and every day man on the Clapham omnibus as the heroes. (and the doctor, who's still quite pro-science and discovery, at least).
So sadly it seems the best scientist role model in modern TV Science Fiction is the crazy guy who experimented on children and makes LSD in the lab, when bored.
Thinking of the Matrix (10 years old now); Yes, Neo was a computer programmer, but he rapidly discovers he's the chosen one and has magic powers (Harry Potter/Luke Skywalker/Jesus/Paul Atreides/Buffy etc). I have a real issue with the Hero's Journey being so prevalent in modern fiction, as it implies that you should sit around waiting for your life to start. Han's the hero, he's the guy who has a choice. Puppets of destiny are not inspiring. I love a book I read recently for having the chosen one give up and go home and her mate saves the city instead; because it needed to be done and nobody else was doing it. Now that's inspirational.
Without Spock and Avon it looks like the next generation will aspire to be forensic analysts. I admit these might not have been the most emotionally developed of role models, but in our old age, our doctors will be those kids who got inspired by Dr Cox & Dr House.