Every day is in fact International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate women’s realities and their stories. We’ve put together a list of some of TV’s most badass women – some quickly becoming iconic, and others having been iconic for years!
*Currently in no particular order
Rosa Diaz / Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Each and every member of the Brooklyn Nine-Nine cast is loved by anyone who watches the show, and they are all celebrated for each of their subsequent character flaws and strengths. It’s always hard to pick just one character to love in a comedy series like this one, but there is no question about who’s a badass female character: Rosa Diaz.
Rosa Diaz: she just freaking broke a printer here by kicking it / The Fandomentals
There is no doubt that everyone who has ever watched B99 long enough has had a crush on Rosa for an extended period of time (I know I still have one!). With her dark and mysterious, black leather jacket and sexy motorcycle aesthetic, who wouldn’t swoon over her even just a little bit? She’s known as “the scary one” amongst her colleagues, and has shown that her temper is not one to be messed with. She’s beautiful, smart, and an incredibly talented detective who stands her ground when fighting for what she believes in. Apart from being a badass who beats up bad guys (and her friends when they make stupid mistakes), Rosa’s character was revealed to be bisexual at the start of B99’s fifth season. With the lack of representation of bisexuality in mainstream media, fans celebrated this reveal – their sexuality was represented in a proper manner in media, and what’s more, represented through a Latina woman – something that is rare!
Not only did Rosa confide in Jake (played by Andy Samberg), one of her closest friends, when talking about coming out to her parents, but when she did come out to them, she made sure to articulate that her sexuality was not a phase, despite what her parents kept telling her. It definitely put a positive spin on LGBTQ+ representation in modern TV shows, and Rosa is even more loved by her fans for being brave enough to come out! Fun fact: the actress who plays Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) is also bisexual! She felt that she wanted Rosa’s coming out story to be the same as hers, and even asked to reshoot the scene multiple times before she was finally satisfied!
Annalise Keating / How to get away with Murder
SPOILER ALERT: the entire show is based on the prospect that Annalise Keating, a law professor at Middleton University in Philadelphia, has five students in her law clinic who have committed a murder. To save their asses, she comes up with various (and not entirely legal) methods to execute in order to ensure their safety and to ensure that they don’t go to jail for the crimes (yes, that’s right, plural). The entire series almost feels like a game of cat-and-mouse, except for the fact that the repercussions are incredibly serious. The show doesn’t just focus on Annalise and her students running away from their crimes, but also depicts Annalise’s career as a defense attorney and the measures she takes to make sure she wins her cases for her clients who might not necessarily have a voice. Pretty badass, I gotta say.
Annalise Keating: teaching you the face to make when you’re being cutthroat / Hellogigles
Viola Davis’ portrayal of Annalise Keating won her an Emmy for “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series”. It’s important to know that while a character in a fictional series may be written to be badass, the execution has to be flawless too. Annalise is only an iconic badass femme because of how she is portrayed by Davis. It is refreshing as well as empowering to know that Davis is a well-loved black actress, along with other actresses like Lupita Nyong’o and Zendaya. A steadily growing number of black actresses are starting to take the stage in Hollywood, and their fans are roaring at their excellence. One of the things that makes Annalise Keating a character that’s badass is the fact that we are shown so many different sides to her, and despite the crap that she didn’t deserve, she still keeps going strong and fights the system, even if that fighting is questionable at times.
Arya Stark / Game of Thrones
It is pleasantly common for modern TV shows to showcase young girls who grow to be formidable women, and it’s a trope that we can only hope will be done a lot more than it is now! At the start of the Game of Thrones series, Arya was shown to be stereotypically feminine like her older sister Sansa, but only in the sense that she wore dresses and had long hair, and abided by expectations simply because she didn’t have enough power to fight against them. The way that her character is set up tells people that there is a guarantee that she will grow up to be one badass woman, especially with the fact that her family was humiliated, sabotaged, and belittled right before her very eyes. As she grew older, she encountered people who spat when they spoke her family’s name, and what else is a girl gonna do when the people she loves are used as fodder and her family name is destroyed?
SPOILER ALERT: she takes revenge, of course.
Arya Stark: she looks ready to kill a man (and most definitely will!) / Hidden Remote
It’s a known fact amongst the viewers that Arya, ever since she was a little girl, wanted to be a swordsman or a fighter when she was older. After the unfortunate slaughter of her father, Arya fled and disappeared so that she could find a way to regain her family’s honor. Of course, she deduced that the best way to be a badass was to train under other badasses, which evidently resulted in Arya traveling from place to place, searching for mentors who were both well-versed in the sword, and also in subterfuge and assassinations. Learning these skills would eventually enable her to be able to enact vengeance on those who brought death upon her family, the people she loved so much that she would literally do anything for, just to be able to miss them a little less. The lesson you should learn before you hurt someone like Arya is this: never take a woman’s grief and love for granted.
Kim Possible / Kim Possible
For a lot of people who watched Kim Possible growing up, she was the teenager that you wished you would grow up to be. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to be an amazing spy-hero with cool gadgets provided by a ten-year-old prodigy for you to kick ass and save the world, over and over again? Amongst her enemies, she was known as someone who would always succeed at ruining their plans to take over the world – which, if you think about it, means that they acknowledge she’s a badass babe and is capable of anything.
In reality, it is incredibly difficult – not impossible – to be a straight-A student and excel in extracurricular activities because of the balance that you have to have. On top of that, people have to worry about their own personal issues and still be able to go on with their lives and do the best that they can. For Kim Possible, all these things are possible (it’s in the name!) because for her, as long as she is doing the best she can at the things that she loves, then nothing else matters! Of course, she’s had her hiccups along the way, but what person – fictional and real – doesn’t?
Kim Possible: A Sitch In Time (a movie) / Cinema Blend
Buffy Summers / Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Ah, a true classic. If you didn’t watch this show as you were growing up (I know I didn’t), you must have at least heard of Daphne from Scooby Doo, who just so happens to be the protagonist of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. For a long time in TV and movies, female characters were either written as feminine and spineless but with a guaranteed happy ending with the man they love, or they are written as strong, more masculine, and “don’t need no man”. Often, the latter is seen as the “undesirable” one to be, which caused a lot of girls to fall into this trap of telling men that they’re “not like other girls”. To that, Buffy would say:
“What’s wrong with being like other girls?”
Buffy can be described as the nightmare of misogynistic men who feel they have a right to dictate how a woman should live her life. All the qualities that men have called weak, such as emotional resilience, kindness, compassion, are all traits that Buffy is well-known and admired for. Not only does she see these traits as her strengths, but she convinces us that they can be our strengths, too. You can always kick ass while wearing heels and some great lipstick – don’t let a man tell you what you can and can’t do!
Buffy Summers / The Spinoff
What makes Buffy so great, is that at the end of the series, what we take away from this TV show that ran for seven years, is that we don’t just see how Buffy ends up. It’s not just her story that has a sense of finality, but she shares what she’s learned from being a Slayer and imparts that wisdom unto other women, telling them that the men who decided their destiny for themcan go straight to hell, and that they have more strength than they think they do. Talk about an incredible sense of women empowerment that will keep us coming back to remember where the badassery all started from!
Clarke Griffin / The 100
Dystopian TV shows have always been popular, but The 100 is one that has been praised for its action-packed episodes, as well its heart-wrenching moments that leave fans heartbroken. A ship that has left Earth due to the fact that the land is full of radiation as a result of nuclear bombing, decides to send 100 delinquents back to the motherland to see if there is life on Earth, and if it is habitable again, since the life they created on their space ark is failing (hence, the name of the show!). Running out of resources, the 100 are sent back to Earth as a necessity rather than as an experimental trial. The first couple of seasons, each character is shown to be dealing with their own personal demons, and have to adjust to their new lives in their own way. Clarke is one of the most intelligent characters on the show, and also one of the most compassionate. From the very start of the series, Clarke tries her best to take charge so that her friends and family don’t die in vain. Obviously, this doesn’t mean she always succeeds, but the important thing is that she never gives up.
Clarke spends most of her life alone, her sense of independence forged from loss and sheer survival instinct. It’s hard to say whether you’d want to do something if you were in her position, because without support and resources, how would you save everyone you love? Clarke disregards this, and still tries her best to be good, to be the best version of herself, and takes burdens upon herself so that the people she loves don’t have to. How can you not love someone so selfless?
Clarke Griffin: “I tried… I tried to be the good guy.” / Tumblr
Although not the first bisexual character to be represented in television, fans of the show certainly loved the fact that Clarke was written to be bisexual after she becomes involved with another female character named Lexa, after she was romantically involved with a male character named Finn. In older media, it is pretty obvious that bisexual people are used as the punchline for (slightly) homophobic jokes, but in the last five or so years, the television industry has really improved in making bisexual female characters to be more realistic and not sexualized! Clarke Griffin will always jerk those tears in your eyes, with her humanity and will to save everyone she loves.
Yukimura Kira / Teen Wolf
Yukimura Kira started off as a side character in Teen Wolf and was part of a separate arc that eventually led her to be part of the main cast after season 3. Her storyline involves a forbidden sword and hidden powers, and let’s be real, who wouldn’t want to know what happens when a girl is formidable in martial arts and wants to educate herself on a weapon that has been handed down to her, and is forbidden? Kira could literally cut a man in half, and the fact that her powers come from Japanese folklore as opposed to age-old tales we’re more familiar with because they are portrayed in other TV shows.
It’s not a secret that in television, it is difficult for writers to represent mixed Asian kids who are only mixed Asian, which Kira happens to be! Half Japanese and half Korean, Kira inherited her kitsune abilities from her mother’s side of the family, who was the last member of the Yukimura family. Kira spends most of her life unaware of her own powers, until an incident in which she is forced to fight against the Nogitsune (the dark fox), and her powers awaken and shock her (she never would have thought that she actually had super powers). With abilities rooted in her heritage, Kira uses these powers to fight alongside Scott, who is considered to be pretty damn formidable.
Yukimura Kira in her other form: a badass fox (Japanese: kitsune) / Teen Wolf Wikia
Katara / Avatar: The Last Airbender
The underdog is usually one of the most loved characters in any TV show. While Avatar: The Last Airbender had Aang for a protagonist, Katara, the main female lead, had a beautiful character arc that certainly gives her a well-deserved place on this list. Not only was her character development done very well, but she was also a benchmark for fans to use to compare her with their other favorite characters from other cartoons or anime. Starting from being unable to water bend, Katara worked hard with her brother Sokka and her future husband Aang, in order to receive enough training to be able to fight against the Fire Nation that was attempting to exorcise world domination. Not only did her writers give her the ability to become a master at waterbending, but they also gave her the ability to heal, which is often misconstrued as a “weak” ability. But who would save everyone from dying if there were no healers around?
As the show goes on, Katara learns the forbidden ability known as blood bending. If you are a gamer and you have played Dragon Age, then you already know that the word “forbidden” takes on a whole new meaning when it involves using the blood of your enemies to control them to make the outcomes of your battles work in your favor. If you’re not afraid of this girl, you probably should be, because not only does she hold your life in her hands with her healing abilities, she also knows the quickest way to kill you. How much more badass can you get?
Rachel Green / Friends
Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of criticisms of Rachel’s character, but they mostly stem from the fact that compared to her friends, she was the one who had everything handed to her. The problem with that, is that whoever tells you that Rachel Green isn’t badass or iconic, is lying to you and they are 100% wrong. Rachel is one of the most loved characters of the main cast, and the reason that she is loved – even fourteen years after the show has ended – is simply because she is a realistic woman – sweet, struggling, learning to love and live on her own and is determined to forge her own independence. Her character grows along with the other friends and to this day, fans still see themselves in Rachel Karen Green.
If you’ve never seen Friends (which, by the way, you definitely should), you’ll see that Rachel, from the very first episode, sets out to live on her own and live for herself, despite the fact that her future had already been planned for her by her father. That is never easy in any sense of the word, and the fact that she did so proves how independent she is, and how deep down, she believes in herself, and that she can achieve great things. Although the show itself is a light-hearted American sitcom, each character brings a lesson for its viewers to the table, and the message that Rachel brings is this:
Always work hard for what you want, especially when no one believes in you.
Rachel Green: that look will teach you to never mess around with her! / Good Characters
She’s the woman who, despite the fact that she knew she was disappointing her father, still set out to achieve her dreams of having her own life. The same woman who, after wanting to give up so many times, still persevered until she finally got the life that she wanted, and ended up with blessings in her life that made her happier than she thought was possible. Not only did she kick ass at life and proved everyone who doubted her wrong, but she certainly did it in style (since she did end up working at Ralph Lauren in a pretty high position)! Props to her for staying a classic icon!
Hannah Wells / Designated Survivor
If you love Maggie Q, or if you love FBI agents, or if you just love conspiracy, Designated Survivor is one of the best shows I have seen that cater to this exact criteria. While Maggie Q is known for her other roles in Mission: Impossible III and Nikita, she can certainly add DS to her list of shining achievements, even though the show is still ongoing. Hannah Wells is the character she plays, and let me tell you: this chick is so freaking badass that once you start watching the show, you’ll be screaming at your computer screen, “Hannah, you better not die!”.
Designated Survivor is a TV show based on the American political term referring to a person in the U.S. government that – should the U.S. government be wiped out – will be sworn in as the new President of the United States. Tom Kirkman (played by Kiefer Sutherland, for you 24 fans!) is the man that is named the designated survivor, and his duties as the new President are harrowing enough, without having to constantly be in the loop about different situations that contribute to the terrorist act enacted upon the Capitol. Of course, having Hannah Wells work for him isn’t the worst thing for his presidency.
Hannah Wells / TV Guide
There is a consensus amongst all TV shows and movies where the FBI is portrayed, that the agents are trained in various fields, particularly in espionage, so that they can defend the country’s intelligence without giving their identities away. Not only is Hannah Wells well-versed in deception, but she also knows how to get exactly what she wants by being so confrontational to the point that men cannot turn away from her when she demands to know sensitive information that could jeopardize her President’s life. The great thing about Hannah Wells is that firstly, you can’t just say her first name (haha), you have to say her full name. That’s how badass she is. Another great thing about her is that she became an FBI agent because, SPOILER ALERT, she wanted to piss off her dad, who wanted her to be a doctor. Talk about an iconic ‘I do what I want’ badass babe.
Written by Qistina Azman