is william fichtner really in a wheelchair
Source: CBS

Does the Actor Who Plays Adam on 'Mom' Use a Wheelchair in Real Life?

Fans of CBS' 'Mom' are curious whether the actor who plays wheelchair-bound Adam is really disabled. Here is what you need to know.


Apr. 27 2020, Updated 11:28 a.m. ET

CBS' Mom has been going strong for six seasons now, and the series shows no signs of stopping. Last week, we watched as wheelchair-bound Adam (William Fichtner) bought Bonnie (Alison Janney) a new car, while Christy went out with Sergei, Yuri's cousin.

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Adam Janikowski, who met Bonnie Plunkett in Season 3 when he accidentally dialed the wrong number and Bonnie answered the phone, became a mainstay on the show in Season 4. Before long, Adam moved in with Bonnie, much to the relief of Mom fans who adored the character and never wanted him to leave.

But now that he's here to stay, many viewers are wondering whether William Fichtner, the actor who plays Bonnie's other half, actually uses a wheelchair.

is william fichtner really in a wheelchair
Source: CBS
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So, does William Fichtner use a wheelchair?

In real life, William Fichtner — who you might recognize from movies like The Perfect Storm, Black Hawk Down and The Dark Knight — does not use a wheelchair to get around. 

However, according to someone on Quora who does use a manual chair and has something of "a sixth sense about which actors are real users and who's not," William "does a pretty good job." 

But others are less than pleased with the decision to cast an able-bodied actor in the role of the disabled stuntman, and are taking to Twitter to ask CBS about their decision. "Is it too hard to cast an actor actually in a wheelchair?" wrote one frustrated viewer. "I know plenty of them. Ableism is a form of discrimination." "Maybe they can replace Adam with an actor who's actually in a wheelchair..." added another.

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is william fichtner really in a wheelchair
Source: Getty

This is far from the first time able-bodied actors have portrayed characters with disabilities, and it might be time to stop the trend. After all, a recent study by the Ruderman Family Foundation found that able-bodied actors play a whopping 95 percent of characters with disabilities in TV shows.

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These days, William Fichtner is not alone when it comes to playing a character in a wheelchair. Superstore's Garrett is also played by able-bodied actor Colton Dunn and the actress who portrays Delilah in NCIS doesn't use a wheelchair either. 

In fact, the only sigh of relief on TV these days is the fact that Patton on NCIS: New Orleans is played by Daryl "Chill" Mitchell, who, like his character, is also paralyzed from the waist down.

is william fichtner really in a wheelchair
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Remind me, why is Adam in a wheelchair on Mom?

There's no doubt that Hollywood can do better not just in casting actors with disabilities for these roles, but also in making sure the characters they write aren't just there for their physical differences. 

Adam does indeed feel like a round character who lives with a disability, sure, but also has a life of his own as well. He's funny, independent, intelligent and loves beer almost as much as he loves Bonnie. 

For fans who might need a bit of a refresher on how Adam ended up in a wheelchair, it's because he got into a snowboarding accident while going off a cliff. As a consequence, he was no longer to continue his career as a stuntman. 

You'll remember he was afraid to even meet Bonnie after their first few phone calls because he was afraid to reveal he used a wheelchair.

Catch tonight's episode of Mom on CBS at 9 p.m.

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