10 Amazing Female Fictional Characters

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Posted 2023-07-30 by Marisa Quinn-Haisufollow
Photo from Wikipedia

"I am the thing that monsters have nightmares about. "

Buffy Summers, "Showtime", Buffy the Vampire Slayer

There has always been something about the phrase "Strong Female Character" that has bugged me. The "Strong Female Character" has always been paraded around as empowering for women, and sometimes it is, but other times it can feel irritating, even a little bit condescending. A strong female character is a female character who is not like other girls. She has masculine traits and attributes, speaks her mind, doesn't have much of a feminine side, has masculine hobbies and usually works in a traditionally masculine field. I'm not saying that all strong female characters are bad. I've included some in this list. What I'm trying to say is the trope has become tired. A lot of the time, I feel like a strong female character is inserted into a franchise not to be empowering, but for marketing purposes. It is a box to be ticked.

I've often wondered to myself, isn't a strong female character better than a damsel in distress? A damsel in distress is a character trope that has been around for centuries. The character was popular in medieval romances and was usually a persecuted maiden or princess who was beautiful and helpless who gets placed into a dire predicament by a villain or monster. The damsel in distress is never able to free herself, and has to wait for a dashing male hero to arrive to save her, who will often then win her hand in marriage as a prize. The strong female character is the opposite of the damsel in distress and became popular in the first half of the 20th century with the rise of mainstream feminism.

The problem I have with the strong female character trope is how it seems to imply that all other female characters are weak for being emotional and having a feminine side by default. Who decided that for a female character to be strong, she has to be tough? Aren't there other kinds of strength? I want to see more female characters that are neither damsels or strong female characters, but somewhere in the middle. I think we should ditch the label of the strong female character and just call them female characters. This list includes 10 Amazing Female Fictional Characters who I admire for their flaws, personalities, femininity and strength.

1. Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy Summers is frequently listed as a common example of the strong female character trope done right. Buffy fits the description of the "action girl" or the "hot heroine" which is a female character who has enhanced physical strength and fighting abilities. She is beautiful, brave and selfless, and strong enough to save not just herself from dangerous foes and obstacles, but the entire world as well.

Joss Whedon created Buffy to subvert the clich e9 of the "little blonde woman" who appears in every horror film just to be killed at the hands of a monster or serial killer. He wanted to create a female character who looked weak and helpless but would later turn out to be an extraordinary, powerful woman who will be the hero of the show. In the early days of Buffy, the character was a shallow cheerleader. She was later reinvented to be more of a "valley girl" type, with bleach-blonde hair, soft make up, painted nails and a girlish fashion sense. A "valley girl" is a stock character that is usually portrayed as a materialistic upper-middle class young woman from California, who might be a bit of an airhead, and is usually more interested in shopping or hanging out with her friends than doing her school work.

One of the things that Joss did to make Buffy feel like a valley girl was to make her speak "valleyspeak" which is an American English social dialect associated with valley girls that uses a lot of surfer and skateboarding slang. The dialogue and slang used by characters in Buffy become so well known, it now has its own name, which is Buffy speak. Over the course of the show's seven-year run, we see Buffy struggle to balance her family, friends and school work with her responsibilities and duties as a Slayer. Her constant struggle between wanting to feel like a normal girl and accepting her destiny is what makes her such a great and believable character.

2. Usagi Tsukino from Sailor Moon

I've included Sailor Moon on this list because I think she is a good example of a strong female character who doesn't reject her feminine side. Usagi Tsukino was 14- years- old when a talking cat named Luna gave her a magical broach and told her that she was destined to become Sailor Moon and defend the Earth from evil. It takes Usagi a long time to adjust to being Sailor Moon. When she first starts fighting evil, she acts like a damsel in distress half the time, and often has to be rescued by Tuxedo Mask. Usagi is presented as an 'everyday girl' who is not great at her school work, cries a lot, and is a bit of a klutz. She loves to read manga, stuff her face with food, play video games at the local arcade, and gossip over boys. As she grows older, she becomes more confident in her powers and her abilities as Sailor Moon, due in part to the special bond that she develops with the rest of the Sailor Guardians. In the world of Sailor Moon, femininity is strength, it is power, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Sailor Moon and the Sailor Guardians wear short skirts, knee-high boots, jewels and compacts, but not to impress men. They use them as powerful instruments to defend the world against evil. Sailor Moon is a story about female friendship and the power of love. In Sailor Moon, all girls can be powerful and learn to be strong, even a klutz like Usagi Tsukino.

3. Captain Kathryn Janeway from Star Trek Voyager

Captain Kathryn Janeway was one of my feminist role models growing up. As the first female Starfleet captain to feature as the main protagonist of a Star Trek television series, Captain Janeway meant a lot to me. I saw a confident and badass woman existing in a male- dominated space and demanding respect, and found it awe- inspiring. As dorky as it sounds, I used to imagine serving under her onboard Voyager, I admired her so much.

The idea to cast a female captain as the main lead of Star Trek Voyager was a decision the creative team behind the show made early in the show's development. They thought it would be a progressive step for Star Trek that would help set Star Trek Voyager apart from its predecessors. They wanted a female character who would be more nurturing, a little less swashbuckling, a little bit more approachable and a little less sullen than previous captains had been. The decision to have a female character serve as the series lead in a new Star Trek franchise - a series where most of the fans were mostly male - was viewed as a bit of a gamble by Paramount Studios at the time.

It took the executive producers a little while to sell them on the idea. Once they did, they quickly got to work developing the character of the Captain, and building her into the premise of the new series. The end result was Captain Kathryn Janeway, a confident and charismatic woman in her mid- forties, who takes her role as Captain of the USS Voyager very seriously. Captain Janeway is comforting and warm, nurturing and motherly, tough but fair, she isn't afraid to take chances, is authoritative when she needs to be, but also feminine. Captain Janeway is a classic example of a strong female character that fits the "brainy brunette" or the "brains in the room" trope. She is a headstrong, confident character, who uses her intelligence to achieve amazing things and their ambition to succeed in her career and earn the respect of others.

4. Jadzia Dax from Star Trek Deep Space Nine

Jadzia Dax is one of my favourite characters in Star Trek. Jadzia was a science officer who served onboard the space station Deep Space 9 under the command of Captain Benjamin Sisko. Jadzia was a joined Trill and the eighth host of the Dax symbiont. The Trill are a humanoid race of aliens that can choose to share their bodies with a sentient symbiotic organism known as a symbiont. Once a Trill becomes joined, the personality of the current host becomes a blending of all of the memories, skills, and personalities of the previous hosts and the symbiont. The end result being that current host and the symbiont end up sharing a single, conscious mind. When Jadzia became joined to the Dax symbiont, she received seven lifetimes worth of memories and experiences, which changed her as a person.

Jadzia went from being a shy, but determined young woman, to a confident and outgoing person who wasn't afraid to have fun, take risks, and let herself laugh. Terry Farrell did such a fantastic job playing Jadzia Dax. What I liked about Jadzia was how she was written with both male and female characteristics. The line between male and female was so blurred inside her, due to the multiple personalities inside her head, she has been compared to a trans character. She was a well-rounded character with multiple layers who was treated with respect by her colleagues. She had the confident swagger and smirk of a man twice her age, the wisdom of an old man, she was a compassionate and caring friend to others, bold in her romantic pursuits, and an accomplished warrior and scientist who drank blood wine with Klingons and played tongo with Ferengi. Jadzia was such a fun character. I loved her confidence and how she challenged gender stereotypes. She had the memories and experiences of living life as a man multiple times, so she knew exactly what she was capable of and never let being a female stop her from taking risks.

5. Princess Bubblegum from Adventure Time

Princess Bubblegum is one of the main characters on the animated television series Adventure Time. At first glance, she fits the damsel in distress trope. She is a princess and the ruler of the Candy Kingdom, a magical place inhabited by people made up of desserts and cakes, and is frequently the target of kidnap by various monsters and villains. In several episodes, she has to be rescued by Finn, the young male hero of the show, who secretly harbors a crush on her. What makes Princess Bubblegum different from other fairy tale princesses is despite sometimes filling the damsel role, she is also a complex, fully developed character in her own right. In the past, it was common for a lot of shows to include one or two female characters, as a sort of "token" female to attract female viewers. This single female character would often be featured in a cast of all male characters, all of whom would have some sort of character development and fit a role in the story, like the comic relief or the hero. The female character in the group would have little character development beyond being "the female" and would wear pink or have a bow in her hair. Her femininity would be seen as a weakness, or annoying to the other male characters, and all of her interests would be typically feminine ones, like shopping, makeup, fashion, or obsessing over boys.

In Adventure Time, the creators of the show took the damsel in distress trope and dismantled it. Princess Bubblegum is just one of the many female characters on Adventure Time that shatter outdated tropes about what it means to be a female character. Princess Bubblegum is a lot more than just a damsel in distress. We get to learn a lot about her. She is a devoted leader of the Candy Kingdom who is more than capable of making difficult decisions to protect her people. She has her own interests which have nothing to do with her being female and she is an intelligent and brilliant scientist. The best thing I like about her though is how she doesn't end up in a romantic relationship with Finn at the end of the show. In traditional fairy tales, after the hero rescues the damsel in distress, he usually wins her hand in marriage, but not in Adventure Time. Bubblegum turns down Finn's romantic advances and hooks up with another female character, Marceline the Vampire Queen, instead. This was such a delightful twist on the damsel in distress trope. It was so wholesome and modern. It says to the audience that women are not a prize to be won and can make their own choices.

6. River Tam from Firefly

River Tam is a fictional character created by Joss Whedon. She was the main protagonist in the 2002 science fiction television show Firefly and in the 2005 follow-up film Serenity. She has been described as an antiheroine, which is a main character that lacks the traditional qualities of a hero like bravery or idealism, and the opposite of the more heroic Buffy Summers. River Tam fits the "wild, raging girl" trope, which is a strong female character who is angry, powerful and a force to be reckoned with. River is described as being extremely gifted and having abilities and talents that no one else has. She is so talented and intelligent, she is able to master anything she tries, from music, to maths, to theoretical physics and even dance. Her talents are so impressive, they attract the attention of a government learning facility called "The Academy", which River's parents believed to be a private school for the gifted. In truth, the school was actually a secret government facility designed to create the perfect assassin. River was isolated from her family there and tortured and experimented on. As a result of this abuse, River suffers a psychotic break and becomes fragile and childlike, and struggles to control heightened abilities and psychic powers. In the movie Serenity, we see River struggle with her trauma, and we learn that she possesses extraordinary fighting abilities. She takes on large groups of 20-30 opponents not once, but twice, using a mixture of kung fu, kickboxing and ballet, and emerges victorious both times without suffering a single scratch on her. In time, River overcomes her trauma, and learns to be more in control of her emotions and abilities.

7. Princess Leia from Star Wars

Princess Leia is one of the most popular Star Wars characters of all time. She was introduced in the first Star Wars film in 1977 as the cinnamon-bun wearing and outspoken princess of the planet Alderaan, a member of the Imperial Senate and an agent of the Rebel Alliance. In the opening scene of the film, we see her fleeing from the Empire on a rebel ship, armed with stolen plans for the Empire's new superweapon, the Death Star. Leia is captured by Darth Vader and held captive on the Death Star. News of her imprisonment reaches Luke Skywalker, an idealistic young boy from Tatooine and the main protagonist and hero archetype of the series. Luke decides that it is his moral duty to try and rescue the Princess. When he manages to find Leia, he doesn't find a sweet innocent damsel in distress.

Princess Leia was bossy, defiant, assertive and willing to step up and play the hero herself if it meant getting the job done. When Luke's rescue effort leaves her unimpressed, she snatches a blaster and takes charge, shooting back at the Stormtroopers and then blasting a hole into a garbage chute to give them a means to escape. Princess Leia was a defining character in science fiction and helped to shape future strong female characters in pop culture for years to come. She has been called a 1980's icon, a feminist hero, and has been described as the "foremother" of characters like Ripley from Aliens and Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. The actor who played Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill, had a lot of praise for Fisher's performance. He liked that Leia wasn't a shrinking violet and didn't need a man to rescue her. Carrie Fisher received a lot of praise for her portrayal of Princess Leia and has vigorously defended the character against claims she fit the "damsel in distress" trope. Fisher described Princess Leia as a "feminist icon" who bossed people around and knew how to take charge. She is Princess Leia and Princess Leia is her.

8. Dana Scully from The X Files

Agent Dana Scully was a fictional character and one of the main protagonists on the science fiction television show, The X Files, from 1993 to 2002. She also appeared in the 1998 feature film "The X Files: Fight the Future" and the 2008 feature film "The X Files: I Want to Believe" and in The X Files television revival series that ran from 24 January 2016 to 21 March 2018. In the pilot episode of the series, Agent Scully is introduced as an FBI Special Agent and medical doctor with a background in science. Scully is assigned to the X Files unit to monitor the work of Fox Mulder, a highly trained and unconventional FBI Agent skilled in paranormal investigations, and is instructed to use her scientific expertise and perspective to debunk his work. The two agents clash in the beginning, due to their different backgrounds and beliefs, but eventually develop a close bond and respect for each other. Agent Dana Scully has frequently been cited as an example of a strong female character and has been called one of the most iconic and memorable characters in science fiction. What made Scully such a good character was that every time she was faced with something she could not explain, she was forced to question herself, and open herself up to new ideas and possibilities. She was the perfect partner for Mulder, who was sometimes so eager to believe in the fantastical, that he needed Scully's firm belief in science to keep him grounded and rational. The character of Scully had a big impact on popular culture. She was so influential and well received by fans, she is believed to be directly responsible for a phenomenon known as the "Scully effect" which inspired an entire generation of young women to explore career opportunities in STEM.

9. Sophie Hatter from Howl's Moving Castle

Sophie Hatter is the main protagonist of the 1986 novel Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones and the 2004 film adaptation directed by Hayao Miyazaki and animated by the Japanese film studio Studio Ghibli. The book and the movie follow the adventures of Sophie, a shy young woman living in a small town, who has resigned herself to working in her late father's hat shop. Sophie has convinced herself that as the eldest of three sisters, it is her responsibility to let them pursue their own interests and good fortune, while she lives a dull and uninteresting life working as an apprentice in the hat shop. Sophie puts on a brave face, but in reality, she dislikes working in the hat shop, and wishes that her life was different. She is perfectly capable of making her own decisions, but is restricted by her own thinking, and struggles to find enough confidence to be able to take the necessary steps to change her life. One day, after leaving her shop, Sophie is harassed by two men in the street and rescued by the wizard Howl. Her encounter with Howl attracts the attention of the Witch of the Waste who later visits Sophie and puts a curse on her which turns her into a ninety- year- old woman. Sophie, now an old woman, sets off a journey to find the wizard Howl, in the hope that he might be able to break her curse.

Sophie manages to find the wizard's famous moving castle - a towering building with legs - and meets Calcifer, a fire demon living inside, who is locked in a contract with Howl to work in his castle. Sophie makes an agreement with him that if she can help him break his contract, he will help her break her curse. Sophie gets a job in Howl's castle as a cleaning lady and ends up finding her situation liberating, because for the first time in her life she is making her own choices, and taking steps to control her destiny. What I like about Sophie is how she grows as a character. She goes from a woman with little confidence, to a well-developed character in charge of her own story, who develops new skills and strong relationships with the rest of the characters. Over the course of the film, we see Sophie become a more active, confident and outspoken woman, as she struggles to break the curse on her. We see her fall in love with Howl, slowly and naturally, and even forgive the Witch of the Waste for putting a curse on her. Sophie's strength is her ability to rise above challenges and solve her own problems and see the good in people.

10. B'Elanna Torres from Star Trek Voyager

B'Elanna Torres was a Klingon- Human hybrid character that appeared on the science fiction television show Star Trek Voyager from 1995 to 2001. B'Elanna was a Starfleet Academy dropout who became stranded in the Delta Quadrant in 2371 when the Maquis vessel she was serving upon was mysteriously transported to the other side of the galaxy by an alien being calling himself the Caretaker. B'Elanna and the rest of the Maquis were rescued by Captain Kathryn Janeway onboard the Federation starship the USS Voyager and were welcomed to join her crew. A fiercely intelligent woman, B'Elanna ended up serving for seven years onboard Voyager as their Chief Engineer. What I loved about B'Elanna was how emotionally resilient she was. When B'Elanna first arrived on Voyager, she saw herself as a misfit and outsider who couldn't fit into Starfleet, and carried a lot of negative feelings about herself and her Klingon side. Her vulnerability about her racial identity meant that B'Elanna was constantly at war with herself and struggling with angry outbursts, hatred, and lack of self-control. It takes B'Elanna years to learn to accept her heritage and to accept and find value in all of the different parts of herself. She rises above her insecurities, trauma and heartbreak to become a stronger, more confident woman.

More TV Show Reviews by Marisa
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84282 - 2023-06-11 06:52:28


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