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43 Female TV And Film Characters Who Empowered And Inspired Us In 2017

We want to be you when we grow up.

Valkyrie from Thor: Ragnarok

Valkyrie from Thor: Ragnarok

“Valkyrie was tragic, hilarious, heroic, and not to be trifled with.” —tgenck

Marvel

Sam White from Dear White People

Sam White from Dear White People

“She made me want to start the revolution.” —cassidyk4b666a607

Netflix

The Amazons from Wonder Woman

The Amazons from Wonder Woman

“In action and superhero films, Women are vastly underrepresented (obviously), often with only one key woman among a sea of men. In the rare moments when there are multiple women, it’s usually only two, and they often end up pitted against each other. Not in Wonder Woman, though. In this film, we have an entire island of women who are strong, bold, and capable. Not only that, but the women are comrades, helping each other train so that, together, they can be stronger. The training montages at the beginning of the movie had me tearing up because it’s so rare to see women praised as strong and capable *in and of themselves*, without any comparison to men included.” —julied43c2eec1c

Warner Bros.

Princess Diana of Themyscira, Daughter of Hippolyta, from Wonder Woman

Princess Diana of Themyscira, Daughter of Hippolyta, from Wonder Woman

“It was just so powerful. The themes of love and compassion it had just permeated through her warmth for all of humanity. Her true power was not just her badass strength that made her the most formidable fighter in the DC Universe, but her ability to use her heart and brain and her unique perspective as a woman alien to prejudice.” —riazg

Warner Bros.

Penelope Alvarez from One Day at a Time

Penelope Alvarez from One Day at a Time

“Can we just take a moment to respect the REALNESS of Penelope Alvarez? She’s a hardworking single mom and veteran who fights for acceptance for her LGBT daughter and for fair treatment in her workplace. She’s a positive Latina Character on a show centering on a Cuban family and their traditions. She deals with a lot of difficult stuff, and maybe that’s what makes her so real. You get up, you power through, and you do it over and over again.”
—j497776c57

Netflix

Sana from Skam

Sana from Skam

“She’s such an incredibly important character, and, though I’m not Muslim, I am a POC in a white-majority country, and I connected with her so, so much.”
—karinaa4928dae2a

NRK

Lady Bird from Lady Bird

Lady Bird from Lady Bird

“In a movie with such an amazing cast, she outshines everyone else by being strong and spunky and everything you could hope for in a female protagonist.”
—notetonotehourtohour

A24

Issa and the women from Insecure

Issa and the women from Insecure

“Their lives run parallel to mine and all of my girlfriends. They are not perfect; they are nowhere near it, but they are just…living. L-I-V-I-N. And in this climate, sometimes that’s all you can do.” —Toya Davis, Facebook

HBO

Jules and Ophelia from Sweet/Vicious

Jules and Ophelia from Sweet/Vicious

“Jules is one tough, badass survivor who is (literally) fighting for others and herself. She doesn’t back down from a challenge and makes it a point to make other assault survivors feel heard by someone even if the police are ignoring them. Ophelia figures out what Jules is up to and, instead of backing away, she insists on helping and makes herself into one badass sidekick.” —aliciad4bae731f3

FOX

Betty and Veronica from Riverdale

Betty and Veronica from Riverdale

“At first it seemed they would be a cliché: rivals fighting over a less-than-worthy guy. But then the showrunners smartly dodged that bullet and let them evolve beyond that to become friends who are smart, resourceful, determined, and loving.” —tgenck

The CW

The women from GLOW

The women from GLOW

“Each are just ordinary women from different difficult situations who take an opportunity to be more than themselves.” —aan-sofieg

Netflix

The women from Big Little Lies

The women from Big Little Lies

“Those women were some of the most powerful women I’ve ever seen on TV.”
—ericraymondm

HBO

Nola Darling from She’s Gotta Have It

Nola Darling from She's Gotta Have It

“She makes questionable choices and can be a little self-involved sometimes, but that’s kind of what I love about her. She takes risks, stands up for herself, and speaks her mind honestly in a way that I wish I did.” —shylawatson

Netflix

Jane Sloan, Kat Edison, Sutton Brady, Jacqueline Carlyle, and Adena el-Amin from The Bold Type

Jane Sloan, Kat Edison, Sutton Brady, Jacqueline Carlyle, and Adena el-Amin from The Bold Type

“The way the show has been able to handle tough topics — like coming to terms with your sexuality, dealing with loss, and the fear of dying — have been so heart-wrenching and amazing. It’s amazing to see strong female characters who aren’t stereotyped as a “bitch” and whose friendship comes first. Every single cast member is nothing short of flawless.” —Kyler Guebert, Facebook

Freeform

Jane Villanueva from Jane the Virgin

Jane Villanueva from Jane the Virgin

“She lost her husband, Michael, and is still learning how to raise her son. And, through all that, she was able to publish her first book. If that isn’t strength, than I don’t know what is.”
—brafeeat

The CW

Sansa and Arya from Game of Thrones

Sansa and Arya from Game of Thrones

“Sansa evolved from a naive girl wanting to get married to Joffrey to this fearless girl who knows just how to clap back (can we please talk about how she manipulated Littlefinger?). She finally discovered who she was meant to be and that’s FIERCE.” —shwetab3

“No one can deny how awesome Arya is. But one scene that stuck out to me was when she found out that the Starks took back the North. It shows an emotional strength that is awesome. She chooses to put aside something she has been dreaming about for years — killing Cersei — to go back to her family. In that scene, her strength is that she allows herself to be vulnerable.” —rebeccam4ae953e2d

HBO

Mija from Okja

Mija from Okja

“She fights for what she believes is right and literally travels halfway around the world to save her beloved Okja from a slaughterhouse.” —crystalro

Netflix

Dina from Girls Trip

Dina from Girls Trip

“Dina makes the jokes I wish I had the courage to make. She’s the epitome of ‘gives no fucks,’ and she loves her friends as much as she loves to have a good time. Everyone deserves a friend like Dina.” —pablovaldivia

Universal Studios

President Mellie Grant from Scandal

President Mellie Grant from Scandal

“The show feels like an alternative universe now, but I love how she is making the rules when it comes to her presidency and refusing to let anyone dictate her decisions.” —emmanz

ABC

Jessica Jones from The Defenders (and Jessica Jones)

Jessica Jones from The Defenders (and Jessica Jones)

“She’s unapologetically damaged in a way that should be shown more in women. She doesn’t deal with her problems in a healthy manner: She gets scared, she has sex, she doesn’t apologize for who she is, and, as Trish Walker says, she’s never going to help move a couch or plan a party, but she’s there for the stuff that counts.” —s4bab399e6

Netflix / Via scatteredquotes.com

Hela from Thor: Ragnarok

Hela from Thor: Ragnarok

“So many female villains are depicted as over-sexualized or incompetent, and Hela was neither, giving the drive for female movie characters an extra push.”
—notetonotehourtohour

Marvel

Kate McKinnon’s characters from Saturday Night Live

Kate McKinnon's characters from Saturday Night Live

“Kate McKinnon has been so powerful in the comedy world, paving the way for female comedians in a lot of different ways. Not to mention she is by far the best impressionist on the SNL stage since the Maya Rudolph-Kristen Wiig era.”
—khloes2

NBC

Beth from This is Us

Beth from This is Us

“She is strong, insightful, kind, and smart. By far the best character.”
—mairesequin

NBC

Nomi from Sense8

Nomi from Sense8

“She’s a hacktivist who happens to be trans and lesbian. She is not coded as just that, though. She is loving, friendly, and beautiful in so many ways.” —s4bab399e6

Netflix

Rebecca Bunch from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Rebecca Bunch from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

“Rachel Bloom never fails to be fresh and surprising. She makes her show the funniest and most woke on television, and she doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.” —notetonotehourtohour

The CW

Lorraine Broughton from Atomic Blonde

Lorraine Broughton from Atomic Blonde

“She kicked ass and carved out an important place in the line-up of the most celebrated spies in movie history (while still being a queer woman).”
—notetonotehourtohour

Focus Features

Lady Olenna from Game of Thrones

Lady Olenna from Game of Thrones

“She brought me back to life the moment she looked Jaime Lannister in the eye and delivered the most iconic line of the season, “Tell Cersei, I want her to know it was me.” YAS, QUEEN. This woman was a badass from the beginning, but going out like that, in a real blaze of glory…just, brava.” —rebeccajenniferf

HBO

Colleen Wing from Iron Fist

Colleen Wing from Iron Fist

“She is strong and willful and keeps Danny from completely going off the rails.”
—s4bab399e6

Netflix

Clarke Griffin from The 100

Clarke Griffin from The 100

“She’s such an inspiring female lead character! She’s smart, strong, and brave, but she still makes mistakes and isn’t afraid to come back and make up for them. Also, she motivates and provides balance for everyone around her, even when they are angry or disappointed in her. Basically, she’s a brilliant badass, and I wish I was more like her!”
—cspenc4

The CW

Meredith Grey from Grey’s Anatomy

Meredith Grey from Grey's Anatomy

“The 300th episode of Grey’s Anatomy was written by a woman, directed by a woman, created by a woman, line produced by a woman, showrun by women, and starred a whole lot of incredible women. This includes Meredith Grey. This character has been through everything, and has come out on the other side stronger than ever.” —sarahr480ac96b4

ABC

Eleven from Stranger Things

Eleven from Stranger Things

“She is powerful, independent, incredibly brave, and doesn’t let anyone control her. I love that we got to see more of just her this year.” —sophiep41c3db4f2

Netflix

Rainbow Johnson from Black-ish

Rainbow Johnson from Black-ish

“This season’s post-partum depression episode was about as raw and real as it gets, especially for a network sitcom.” —Ali Velez Alderfer, Facebook

ABC

Fiona Gallagher from Shameless

Fiona Gallagher from Shameless

“She’s been through so much shit, and she’s overcome it all.” —jazminecanals2

Showtime

Lagertha from Vikings

Lagertha from Vikings

“She lost the love of her life, trained an army, got a badass girlfriend, invaded Kattegat, and became queen.” —amandadea2

buzzfeed.com

Farah Black from Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

Farah Black from Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

“She’s a three-dimensional character that doesn’t fall into the ‘strong, badass woman’ trope.”
—bsksn

BBC America

Abbi and Ilana from Broad City

Abbi and Ilana from Broad City

“They definitely take the cake this year for best actresses. Perfect representation of what we all wanna embrace: more adventure and orgasms.” —sunnyb4d6f310ee

Comedy Central

Ingrid from Ingrid Goes West

Ingrid from Ingrid Goes West

“I’m obsessed with Aubrey Plaza’s character in Ingrid Goes West! Strong, terrifying, heartbreaking, and a little too relatable. We’ve all got a little bit of Ingrid inside of us.” —stephenlaconte

Neon

Daisy Johnson from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Daisy Johnson from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

“She lost everything in the end of Season 3, and saw herself as the problem coming into Season 4. Throughout Season 4, however, she grew so much and learned to trust herself again. Stories like this are so important because young girls need to see someone who gets knocked down and then fights with everything in her to get back up. She makes me feel empowered and proud and strong as a woman.” —courtneyc4fa30a7b5

Jennifer Clasen / ABC

Ally from American Horror Story: Cult

Ally from American Horror Story: Cult

“She went through one of the best character developments I’ve ever seen. She goes from scared and helpless to strong and revengeful, and Sarah Paulson makes her transformation something amazing to watch.”
—notetonotehourtohour

FX

And finally, the Thirteenth Doctor from Doctor Who, who was revealed this year.

And finally, the Thirteenth Doctor from Doctor Who, who was revealed this year.

“We’ve got a female doctor now! I can’t imagine what it’s gonna be like for these little kids to grow up with these role models.” —totalfangirl11

BBC

Note: submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.



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43 Female TV And Film Characters Who Empowered And Inspired Us In 2017

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