Strong female characters in Hollywood are not a rarity, but certain ones stand out. Some are fierce fighters, some use their wits to outsmart the bad guys, yet others use a mix of brains and physical strength to win the day. An online debate about the best-written roles for women elicited responses proving why their choices made this list.
1. Sarah Connor
As the female lead in the first two movies of the Terminator franchise, Sarah Connor went from being a waitress on the run from the futuristic assassin to a fighter and fugitive who could hold her own against cyborgs and anyone else who got in her way. Her development from an ordinary person to a complicated and sometimes morally ambiguous one makes her a favorite among numerous discussion users.
2. Agent Clarice Starling
The ingenue FBI agent not only helped end Buffalo Bill’s crime spree in The Silence of the Lambs but also managed to accomplish something many others failed to do: survive her encounters with Dr. Hannibal Lecter without becoming one of his targets or victims. Clarice Starling made a powerful impression on many of the forum’s commenters.
3. Ellen Ripley
Ripley was so good at defeating the monstrous Xenomorphs in three Alien movies she was resurrected from the dead and cloned in the fourth film to beat the enemy aliens again. “Ripley didn’t lead because she was a woman, or despite being a woman, Ripley lead because she was always the toughest (mentally) and smartest around,” somebody says.
4. Jessica “J.B.” Fletcher
After an impressive 12 seasons as a rating powerhouse, Murder She Wrote’s protagonist is the grand dame of television detectives. A widowed, retired teacher who becomes a wildly successful novelist and amateur detective later in life, J.B. Fletcher stands second to none regarding well-developed characters.
5. Blanche Devereaux
As one-fourth of The Golden Girls, the persona of Blanche Devereaux showed the world that life not only continues after age 50 but can be full of style, laughter, and a lot of fun. Several members of the online community note how easy it would have been for Blanche to be a two-dimensional stereotype, but instead was written and portrayed as a fully developed, relatable person.
6. Laurie Strode
More than just a classic scream queen, Laurie Strode survives and outfoxes her menacing brother Michael Myers in the Halloween film series. Transforming herself from a deathly frightened babysitter on the run to going on defense pursuing her antagonist, Laurie Strode is no shrinking violet.
7. Scout Finch
The narrator in To Kill a Mockingbird, young Scout demonstrates a maturity and awareness of the world around her that was far beyond her years. She’s also the hero of the book and movie when she prevents a racist mob from harming the falsely accused Tom Robinson. Her unwillingness to conform to the gender role assigned to girls in the South and being true to herself has one participant from the forum remarking that they named their daughter after Scout.
8. Beatrix Kiddo
Also known as The Bride in the Kill Bill movies, Beatrix Kiddo is a one-woman wrecking crew with a single-minded focus on revenge. While she commits terrible acts on her way to her final target, Bill, she operates under a code of honor that protects the innocent and punishes the guilty.
9. Princess Leia
More than a mere member of a monarchical family in the Star Wars universe, Princess Leia is a politician, diplomat, and member of the Rebel Alliance, later becoming a General of the Resistance against the First Order, which she helped to create. Her strength as a diplomat and revolutionary fighter has Star Wars enthusiasts calling for her inclusion as one of the best female protagonists ever.
10. Leslie Knope
Always full of infectious energy, Parks and Recreation’s Leslie Knope is a true leader. She enthusiastically takes on all challenges and obstacles in service of the Pawnee community, even though they sometimes have hilariously disastrous results. Her humanity, including her flaws, makes Leslie Knope one of the most relatable and well-developed television characters ever.
11. Buffy Summers
She’s a high school student by day and a vampire and monster slayer by night. Buffy Summers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame perfectly combines brains, athletic prowess, and beauty. Her fierce independence and ability to hold her own without the help of a man is the definition of girl power.
12. Katniss Everdeen
The Hunger Games’ lead character is moral, intelligent, courageous, selfless, and ethical. How many other people would volunteer to participate in the vicious games to save their sister the way she did?
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