You only need to flick the switch on your television to see that a handful of professions are portrayed again and again on the small screen: Teacher. Doctor. Lawyer. Police officer.
But very few fictional characters are written to represent actual organizations, and those that are can become legendary. Look to actor Martin Milner's oft-praised portrayal of Peter Malloy, a senior officer with Los Angeles Police Department on "Adam-12."
Mr. Milner passed away in early September at the age of 83, and many of the articles, online tributes, and fan posts revealed that, for legions of "Adam-12" viewers, Mr. Milner's Officer Malloy became, in some ways, the face and character of the real LAPD.
With this in mind, LAPD paused to pay its respects to the actor on Wednesday, Oct. 7. Many current officers on the force were just kids when "Adam-12" was first on the air on NBC from 1968-1975, so the memorial was a moving way to remember an early inspiration.
Jorge A. Villegas, Assistant Chief, Office of Operations at LAPD, shared on Twitter that the tribute was "touching" and that Martin Milner had "inspired many to become #LAPD officers." Capt. Paul Vernon tweeted about how the character "was an influence on me" to work towards a career at LAPD.
A display of "Adam-12" memorabilia, a vintage-style TV set, props from the series, a Plymouth Belevedere, and the live-playing of bagpipes were other tender touches from the morning affair, which took place at 1st street-based LAPD Headquarters.
It's a fine reminder of how some stand-out fictional characters can come to represent an actual organization. If a television show's main setting, be it a hospital or school or department, bears a real name, the characters, and their ideals and goals, are frequently associated with the real-world organization.
Memory-laden food for thought as LAPD police officers bid a seen-weekly friend and inspiration farewell.