The Libertarian Futurist Society’s Appreciation series, launched in 2019 to celebrate the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, is an effort to make clear why each work won our award and deserves recognition as a pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian work.
Here’s an appreciation for The Prisoner,” the 2002 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction and the first TV series to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“I am not a number. I am a free man!”
Actor Patrick McGoohan utters those defiant words as the heroic individualist at the center of The Prisoner, one of the most unusual, enigmatic and evocative TV series ever broadcast.
Today, that emblematic catchphrase remains well-known in popular culture, and ranks high among the most familiar lines of dialogue from any TV show or movie of the 20th century.
“I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered. My life is my own,” McGoohan declared in the first episode – another among many memorable anti-authoritarian and individualist lines of dialogue that he would utter throughout the iconic series.
Such explicit affirmations of individuality, self-determination and resistance to tyranny were highly unusual on television half a century ago – and sadly remain relatively rare today.