In 2011, a CBS poll suggested that 8 of 10 Americans believe in angels, so it's no wonder they're popular subjects on TV. Highway to Heaven was first major network series about angels, and its 111 episodes consistently ranked in Nielson's Top 40. Next came the unforgettable series Touched by an Angel. Another, very different approach was taken with the series Saving Grace [2007 – 2010]. A "last chance angel" named Earl visits a jaded Oklahoma City police detective, giving her the chance to redeem her life. With adult language, sex, and violence, as well as deep psychic pain in every episode, the series is not suitable for young children. Here are some of the most memorable roles:
- Valerie Bertinelli [Touched by an Angel] - a new angel sent by God in season seven.
- Alexis Cruz [Touched by an Angel] - Rafael, an angel.
- Ossie Davis [Touched by an Angel] - Gabriel, an archangel.
- Roma Downey [Touched by an Angel] - Monica, an angel transferred from Search and Rescue, one of the three lead characters of the show.
- John Dye [Touched by an Angel] - Andrew, the angel of Death, one of the three lead characters of the show.
- Jasmine Guy [Touched by an Angel] - Kathleen, a fallen angel.
- Michael Landon [Highway to Heaven (1984-1989)] - Johnathan Smith, an angel on probation, and his human sidekick Mark Gordon, played by Victor French, intervene in human affairs in different ways for each episode.
- Cloris Leachman [Touched by an Angel] - Ruth, an archangel.
- Della Reese [Touched by an Angel] - Monica's supervisor, Tess. Reese sang the opening theme, which set the tone: "as you walk down the road, heavy burden, heavy load, I will rise, and I will walk with you…"
- Leon Rippey [Saving Grace] - Earl, a "last-chance" angel who chews tobacco and occasionally loses his temper is sent to help a self-destructive police detective and others including an inmate on death row and a young woman battling addictions.
- Charles Rocket [Touched by an Angel] - Adam, an angel of death.
- Michael Sheen [Good Omens (2019)] - Aziraphale, an angel, teams up with the demon Crowley to forestall Armageddon.
- Paul Winfield [Touched by an Angel] - Sam, an archangel.
More on Touched By An Angel
Purporting to be "where entertainment meets spirituality," the show professed no particular religious affiliation and the angels were shown helping people of various faiths, of no faith, and with various predicaments, mostly of their own making. The consistent message was, "God loves you." The show tackled some thorny issues, helping us consider many of society's hardest problems with compassion. It ran for nine successful seasons on CBS, ending with a two-part episode set in the same town as a number of previous episodes, including Fear Not, one of the very few episodes where the angels made their presence widely known rather than quietly revealing themselves to the individual they were assigned to help. Here are some of the issues the show tackled just in the first season alone:
- Homelessness – Episode 111, There, But for the Grace of God, with guest star Gregory Harrison as Pete. Monica realizes she's stood in judgement on the homeless, and after a prayer she washes his feet.
- Alcoholism – Episode 104, Tough Love. Phylicia Rashad as a journalist with a drinking problem that nearly destroys her family.
- Infidelity – Episode 107, An Unexpected Snow. Two women are involved with the same man.
- Anger after Divorce – Episode 113, Angels On the Air. A radio personality for whom everything is grist for ratings, even her teen.
- Cost of Secrets – Episode 109, The Hero. A son goes down dark roads because he feels he cannot live up to his father's expectations, but his father has a secret.
No doubt, our fascination with angels will bring another series our way. Will it be uplifting and heartwarming, or gut-wrenching and soul-searching? Either way, we look forward to updating this page as more angels come our way. And we're always interested to hear from you with more angels we should consider adding.