11 Times Women Ruled the Screen: Strong Female Characters in Movies and TV Shows

It’s nothing new to have a lead man with macho bravado energy ready to beat the bad guys and protect his girl or the innocents. However, having a female with a well-written character who never backs down leaves us with a lasting impression. Do you know any movies or TV shows with a well-written, strong female character? Check out this list and see if you agree!

1. Nani from Lilo & Stitch

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

The 2002 animated sci-fi film Lilo & Stitch also has a wonderfully written female character who’s really strong—not necessarily about physical strength, but emotionally. One person shared, “Nani from Lilo & Stitch. A (semi) realistic portrayal of an orphaned 19-year-old older sister trying to make ends meet and provide the best life she can for her younger sister and herself. Trying to balance her social/romantic, work, and personal life and being forced to grow up and take responsibility fighting CPS to keep her only family left, together…all the while facing alien shenanigans that occurs.”  Another person added, “Awesome that a Disney movie finally showed a woman succeeding without becoming a princess.” Finally, a third person added their agreement, “A 1000% this.”

2. Mona Lisa Vito from My Cousin Vinny

Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox.

The movie is about a female lawyer defending her cousin’s accused of murder, and she does it like a pro despite her past failures and self-doubts. “Mona Lisa Vito, portrayed by Marissa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny. That movie is a masterpiece, and in no small part from her contribution,” shared one person.  “​​Stole the show so hard she won two awards for it,” replied another. “I remember watching that movie as a kid and thinking how bad a- she is. And her scene in the court where her credentials are questioned probably played a part in my choice of becoming an engineer,” the third person expressed.

3. Dana Scully from The X Files

Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox.

One person shared, “Gillian Anderson sure can play strong female characters. +1 for her portrayal of Stella Gibson on “The Fall”. There’s a scene where she gets surrounded by some goons, but manages to intimidate them. Mad respect”  Another person agreed, “Agree! She was a great character. I really like the name Scully for a girl too. (Like she wasn’t Dana most of the time as she was a professional so I think of her as Scully).”  Finally, a third commentor also added their thoughts, “Scully was THE strong female character of the 90s. Intelligent, educated, confident, and well-spoken. Held her own in male-dominated fields (law enforcement and medicine). Able to get herself and Mulder out of scrapes time and again. And all while wearing heels and sharp suits.”

4. Samantha Carter from Stargate SG-1

Photo Credit: Double Street Productions.

If you like watching female leads work in a male-dominated field, look no further than Stargate SG-1, a military science fiction adventure television series.  One person shared, “Carter was always a fully capable scientist and warrior and she didn’t brook any crap when someone wanted to make an issue out of her gender. She was put into different situations and solved problems in realistic ways, while still being very personable and having different facets of her character to explore as the seasons went on.”  Another person replied with a quote from Samantha Carter’s dialogue: “Sam Carter : I’m an Air Force officer just like you are, Colonel. And just because my reproductive organs are on the inside instead of the outside doesn’t mean I can’t handle whatever you can handle.”

5. Sarah Connor from The Terminator

Photo Credit: Distrib Films US.

Are you a fan of The Terminator? We all love seeing Sarah Connor knock out the bad guy and protect her son with her motherly love. “Came here to say T2 Sarah Connor. The part when she’s doing pull-ups in the mental hospital is a bad a- intro to a character. Loved that movie,” shared one person.  “I really really love that her inner strength comes from something usually played as a weakness: the fact that she’s a mother. As soon as she knows Arnie is back and assumes he will be after her son, she breaks out of a high-security prison that night. Often, typically feminine traits such as caring for people are seen as a weakness rather than the inhuman protection that can come from bearing and rearing a child. It’s even more extraordinary that for Connor, saving the future kind of plays second fiddle to her protecting her son,” another person expressed, emphasizing Sarah’s role as a mother, which gives her inner strength.

6. Clarice Starling from The Silence of the Lambs

Photo Credit: Orion Pictures.

“What makes her such a good character is that despite being highly intelligent and competent she’s desperately scared and vulnerable and mostly alone. The scene where she encounters Buffalo Bill and he’s trying to bluff her, and the camera pans back and you see his revolver on top of the cooker behind him you just think ‘Oh no, how’s she going to survive this?’ Great character and a great performance from Jodie Foster,” shared one person. “Just re-watched the movie last night. Second this. She’s a very well-written and believable strong female character,” another person replied. Finally, a third person agreed and shared their thoughts, “Second this. She isn’t a ‘female version of male character’; she is distinctly feminine and has to deal with the real world problems of being a woman in a male-dominated field, and all of it is handled in a realistic, grounded way.”

7. Ellen Ripley from the Alien series

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox.

If you’ve watched the Alien series, then you know how Ellen Ripley’s character can get people to watch the whole series. She’s ready to lead at any time while remaining grounded and thinking about those around her.  One person stated, “This is it. She’s the main character who happens to be a woman, not a woman who happens to be the main character. The distinction seems small, but it makes all the difference.”  The second person replied, “Great point. My understanding is that few, if any, roles were not written specifically for any gender. I wish I could watch this movie for the first time again. I think Ripley is one of the last characters you see/meet. Doesn’t get any type of top billing, so it’s unexpected the weight her final role carries.”

8. Kim Wexler from Better Call Saul

Photo Credit: AMC/Sony Pictures.

One person shared, “I like Kim because she has depth. Lots of writers don’t understand that you can write a strong character who has flaws, makes mistakes, and shows vulnerability from time to time.”  Another person replied, “I would go as far as to say that a strong character has to have flaws, and make mistakes, and grow, and learn from their choices, and struggle, and regret, and be vulnerable. Regardless of gender, strong impactful characters are those that portray the human condition. Kim is a very good example of that.”  Finally, a third one added, “She is probably one of the most real/relatable characters I’ve seen in a drama tv show, like every single thing that she did in the show was exactly what I expected her to, but not in a predictable kind of way, just an organic way. If that makes sense?”

9. Kim Possible from Kim Possible

Photo Credit: Disney Enterprises.

Kim Possible is an American animated action-comedy series in which the main character, Kim Possible, saves the world with her best friend, Ron, from harm and supervillains.  “Kim Possible, because she has so many different layers! Yes, she saves the world with her best friend on the regular, but she doesn’t use that as an excuse to complain about girly things or flat-out say that they’re stupid like most strong female characters you see. She’s really into cheerleading and incorporates it into what she does; she dates Ron despite every other girl telling her that she’s stupid for liking him and doesn’t care what they think for the most part. She also has believable flaws and has to admit that she’s wrong a number of times; maybe I just really like Kim Possible,” one person said. Another person replied, “She’s the reason I became a cheerleader. She wasn’t the stereotypical mean-girl cheerleader. She was nice, funny, smart, and caring. She was the first character I saw that showed you can be both.” Finally, a third person agreed and added, “I came here to say this! What I loved about Kim is that she was the popular, successful girl, but she was extremely down to earth and normal. She didn’t follow the typical trope of the “strong woman who hates other women”, and she actually loved her parents and siblings.”

10. Avasarala from The Expanse

Photo Credit: Alcon Entertainment.

The Expanse will give you a glimpse of the future hundreds of years from now. It’s a brilliant sci-fi series that will keep its viewers hooked. “Excellent! Found the Expanse tribe! Excellent characters of all types, both in the books and the shows; Avasarala is so great! Shohreh Aghdashloo just nails the role! So many laugh-out-loud moments!” one person shared.  “Expanse writes women pretty well is pretty close with 50/50 representation. Bobbie, Avasarala, Drummer, Naomi are strong core characters, then there’s a multitude of key women characters on top of that,” another person expressed.

11. Chihiro from Spirited Away

Photo Credit: Studio Ghibli.

“Miyazaki is amazing at writing kid characters. Totoro, Spirited Away, Laputa, Kikis Delivery Service… He just gets it,” one person expressed.  Spirited Away has a great plot, so it’s not surprising that its characters leave such a strong impression on us.  Another person replied, “Yes!! Chihiro is amazing. Just a normal twelve-year-old girl who gets into a frankly terrifying situation, but she grits her teeth and overcomes her fear and works so hard and grows so much, even though it’s subtle.My favourite movie of all time. Miyazaki’s female characters are generally strong and well-written. Lin, Kiki, San, Lady Eboshi, Nausicaa, Mei, and Satsuki… All beautiful and memorable characters.” Do you agree with the movies listed here?

Source: Reddit.

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