In the last 15 years of television there have been some seriously kick-butt female characters on TV. Occasionally they are the main character of the show, but more often than not they either share the lead with a male character, or a supporting role. Regardless, these women, and these powerful characters are awesome and they deserve credit. So for this week’s TV Tuesday I bring you my top ten Badass Female Characters, spanning the last 15 years of television (television that I can remember and have watched). Some of these characters, and thus their shows are now lying in the graveyard, and some still airing.
10. Sue Sylvester - It is hard to find anything lovable about the villain of the hit series Glee, yet, many of us come back every week to see what kind of terror Sue (played by the amazing Jane Lynch) will wreak on the kids of McKinley High. Sometimes I want to punch her in the face, but you can’t deny that Sue knows exactly what she wants, and won’t take no for an answer.
9. Debra Morgan - She is awkward, foul-mouthed, and can’t seem to catch a break in the love department, but you can’t deny that Debra (played by Jennifer Carpenter) is a woman on a mission, in the highly popular series Dexter. Driven to do what is right and just in a world where she is surrounded by death, crime, and a brother that is a serial killer, Debra shows that even a powerful and righteous woman isn’t always completely put-together. And frankly, that is a breath of fresh air.
8. Lisa Cuddy - An intelligent and beautiful woman who is unafraid to pu t the resident surly genius doctor in his place, all while flaunting the “assets” that God gave her, and running an entire hospital, with absolutely no shame or wavering. Can I get a hell yes? Sure Cuddy (played by Lisa Edelstein) has her moments where she too is only human, but she is never unsure of her strength and capabilities. You may think House is supposed to be all about, well, House, but without Cuddy, House would be nothing but a bumbling mess.
7. Veronica Mars - Veronica (played by the absolutely hilarious Kristen Bell) is a sassy, wise-cracking crime-solver, who isn’t afraid to show her girly side, even though it would just be easier to be a tomboy, in Veronica Mars. Sure she has issues aplenty (often issues beyond her young years), and her love life can be quite messy, and frankly she trusts very few people (sometimes rightly so). But despite all this, Veronica is an extremely intelligent gal who uses her talents and skills to help those around her.
6. Inara Serra – In the 26th century world of Firefly they may be called “Companions”, but we quickly learn that this is just a fancy and kinder word for someone who sells their “services” for money. But guess what? Inara does not care and is not ashamed of her profession. She holds her head high, she embraces the lifestyle, and will not let anyone put her down. And you know what, good for her. A fantastic person with love in heart she instantly brightens the mood in any room she is in.
5. The Halliwell Sisters - Piper, Phoebe, Prue Halliwell, and later Paige (played by Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano, Shannen Doherty and Rose McGowan) are powerful witches who don’t let any bad guys stand in their way of finding happiness and peace in Charmed (one of the only shows with all female leads to last for eight seasons). From vanquishing the source of all evil, multiple times, to the death of one of their own, these sister witches have had their fair share of difficult times. Yet despite years of constant evil and misfortune, they remain close and supportive of each other, and dedicated to ridding the world of bad, while finding balance and happiness.
4. Temperance Brennan – Brennan (played by Emily Deschanel) is not at all what you would expect of a scientist, let alone the best forensic anthropologist in the country. Stunningly attractive, brutally honest and straightforward, and beyond genius level intelligence, the only problem with Bones is that she is so logical she is unable to comprehend the idea of love. Though she does not like to be wrong (and rarely ever is), with the help of her partner Booth, Brennan begins to understand that living scientifically and logically is not always the right way. Meanwhile, she shows that you can be female and get ahead and be the best without having to flaunt your assets.
3. Olivia Benson - Sometimes it is hard to see just how badass Detective Oliva Benson (played by the talented Mariska Hargitay) is when she is compared to her ass-kicking partner Elliot Stabler, in the best of the Law & Orders, Law & Order: SVU. When they are both present she often plays good-cop to Elliot’s bad-cop, but get her on her own, and that woman will lay down the smack on anyone. She isn’t afraid to put herself in tough and difficult situations, she can lay you flat on your back in a fight quicker than most men can, yet she has heart and soul and knows how to connect with those others would write off. Olivia has been through the ringer, never seeming to find and hold onto love or family, yet she does not let that keep her from doing her job, and doing it well.
2. Buffy Summers – No list of awesome female television characters would be complete without that of Buffy Summers (played by the iconic Sarah Michelle Gellar). Lets face it, Buffy can do everything. One moment she is an ultra-girly ditzy cheerleader who talks about shoes and nail polish, and the next, she is a serious, butt-kicking, stake-wielding, vampire-slaying, uber-chick. She faced death daily, actually died twice, killed her evil vampire boyfriend, stopped the world from ending multiple times, and still managed to make her hair look perfect. Buffy the Vampire Slayer showed girls all around the world that you can be a girl and be powerful and make a difference, thanks to Buffy Summers and…
1. Willow Rosenberg - On most lists of powerful female characters you find Buffy at the top, and are lucky if Willow is even on there, after all, the show isn’t called Willow. But for me, Willow Rosenberg (played by the phenomenal Alyson Hannigan) was the reason I enjoyed Buffy the Vampire Slayer as much as I did (well, her and Spike and Giles). Unlike Buffy, who was given a powerful gift without asking or even earning it, Willow sought out and earned her power. Going from a mousey girl who would have preferred to disappear into the background with her computers, to a highly intelligent woman and powerful witch, Willow controlled and created her own path. Sure, she may have had a bit of trouble handling the power at some points, but when one woman could destroy the entire world at a moment’s notice, you can’t help but notice. Hey, even Buffy couldn’t do that.
What female television characters do you love? Are there any that you hate?