10 Greatest Girl Power Heroines


(Books, TV, & Movies)

Brandy Anderson

I love stories, I love fiction, I love make-believe. My love of story telling isn’t restricted to one or two genres, either. I’m an equal opportunity fiction lover. However, there is one thing that is maddening which runs through the veins of all types of fiction: patriarchy. Many of my favourite characters are males; however, it is insanely frustrating that for every ten or twenty solid male characters there is only one strong female character. Why is this? Mostly, it is because men have dominated much of the world throughout history and, unfortunately, this domination also includes fiction. Many male authors fall into the trap of writing flimsy female characters because they either don’t understand women at all or they’re simply fulfilling some silly male fantasy.

This is not always the case when it comes to male authors, of course. George Lucas created Princess Leia, one of my favourite female characters, but he also created some of the most asinine fictional women as well (think of the screeching female leads in the 2nd and 3rd Indiana Jones movies: but I do love feisty Marion from the 1st and 4th Indy). Although Nicolas Sparks is much beloved by legions of female fans, and while the women in his books are generally likable and strong willed, their stories are always completely wrapped around a man. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like a good love story, but I want a heroine who has her own sense of agency that isn’t wholly reliant on her love interest. Alternatively, Hugh Howey has recently impressed me with his strong and determined silo survivor, Juliette. I look forward to reading more of his work which will, hopefully, continue to include great heroines such as Jules.

I’ve got a very soft spot in my heart for two specific male writers: Joss Whedon and Rob Thomas. Whedon and Thomas are two of the most gifted men when it comes to creating multi-layered, strong, interesting, and “real” female protagonists. The girls and women in their fictional worlds are people that I can identify. They have real problems, real flaws, real strengths. They’re not disproportionate, painted up Barbie Dolls. They’re patterned like real girls/women/people. That’s what makes all of the women in this list so likable – each character is a person first and foremost, who happens to be female when much of the fictional world contains heroines who are doomed to play a one dimensional particular feminine trope.

Certainly, let’s not leave the female writers out of this, either. Women tend to write women better than men do (surprise surprise) just as men tend to write men better (That was a tricky sentence). However, this isn’t always the case. Best example of a female author writing horrible female characters: Stephanie Myer. I know I may be making some of you grind your teeth at this assertion but Bella is one of the worst heroines ever written and one that I would never want my daughter (if I had one) to model herself after in any way, shape, or form. Wretched Bella utterly wraps her life around one boy (well, man I suppose since he’s how many hundreds of years old?). She has no agency herself, everything she does is reliant on her sparkly twinkle toes vamp boyfriend. It’s such a horrendous message to send to young girls.

Luckily for us, there are many gifted female authors out there who write inspirational and strong heroines. J.K. Rowling has recently done girl/womanhood a great service with smart, independent, sassy, and kind Hermione. In addition, Rowling gives us the feisty and heroic Tonks and she also writes the loving, strong, brave, stay-at-home mom, Molly Weasley. Rowling gives girls (and boys, too) the message that women can be just as strong as men whether they choose to pursue a professional field or to make a more domestic career in maintaining house and home.

Louisa May Alcott gave us the irrepressible and lovably spunky writer, Jo March. Lucy Maude Montgomery gifted us with that fiercely intelligent, “red headed snippet”, Anne with an “e” Shirley. Jane Austen brought to life many wonderfully strong heroines, most notably Lizzie Bennet. I could go on and on, but, luckily for you, I won’t. Instead, I offer this quick list featuring 10 of the greatest “girl power” fictional heroines and a few snappy reasons why they’re so great:

10. Zoe Washburne (Firefly)


  • Both physically and emotionally strong
  • Fiercely Loyal
  • Warrior (who is just as tough as any man)
  • Wonderfully Laconic

9. Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice)


  • Strong Willed
  • Witty
  • Refuses to marry Mr. Collins
  • Demands Respect (even, and most particularly, from Darcy)

8. Jo March (Little Women)


  • Free Spirited
  • Craves Action
  • Stubborn (in the best possible way)
  • (…but why did she have to turn down Laurie but say yes to Bhaer?! I’m still not over that.)

7. Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables)


  • Charismatic
  • Loves To Help Others
  • Imaginative
  • Feisty

6. Lorelei Gilmore (Gilmore Girls)


  • Super Single Parent
  • Clever (Verbal is her “thing’)
  • Fun To Be Around
  • Determined and Unafraid To Pursue Dreams

5. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)


  • “Cleverest Witch”
  • Voracious Reader
  • Empathetic
  • Unafraid To Do What’s Right

4. Juliette (Wool)


  • The Cleaning! (I’ll leave it at that for risk of spoilers)
  • Persevering
  • Brave
  • Intuitive

3. Veronica Mars (Veronica Mars)


  • Strong
  • Determined
  • Resourceful
  • Unrelenting

2. Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)


  • She Saved The World – A Lot
  • Slayer (and she doesn’t shirk from her responsibilities)
  • Compassionate
  • Self-Sacrificing

1. Princess Leia (Star Wars)


  • She Saved The GALAXY!
  • Awesome Hair
  • Sassy (“Governor Tarkin, I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board.”)
  • Self-Reliant

Well, there’s my list! Do you guys agree?

4 thoughts on “10 Greatest Girl Power Heroines

  1. Pingback: Can Men Write Good Heroines? | pundit from another planet

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