With a new season of Nikita on the way, we should all be getting excited for a bit of spy action and intrigue, not to mention a show led by badass female characters. Lyndsy Fonesca and Maggie Q have taken us through two seasons of shifting loyalties and high-tension standoffs. But they're just two of the many tough heroines that have graced our screens. As we gear up for Nikita Season Three, here's a Buzzlist of Strong Women on Television:
Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Maybe the obvious choice, but there's no getting around the fact that Joss Whedon created one of the most iconic female badasses in television history. Fighting supernatural monsters on a daily basis, she goes through hell but never loses heart. Whedon's original idea for the character was to invert the notion of "the little blonde girl who goes into a dark alley and gets killed in every horror movie." He succeeded well beyond that gimmick, creating a character that has become a legend in her own right.
Zoë Washburne (Gina Torres), Firefly – Another Whedon creation (the man loves his strong women), Zoë is a 26th Century soldier turned outlaw and a faithful friend to the crew of Serenity. Her marriage to Hoban “Wash” Washburne (Alan Tudyk) is a beautiful example of an emotionally egalitarian relationship – although it's clear that Wash has always been somewhat in awe of his warrior bride. Science-fiction has traditionally been a venue in which to challenge stereotypes of all kinds, and Zoë offers us a future where strong women are admired without being commodified.
Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), Twin Peaks – Laura may not have had the strength to overcome her demons in life, but her spirit fights its way free of darkness, and her memory is powerful enough to keep an entire town under a spell of grief and regret. At its heart, Twin Peaks is a metaphorical drama of domestic abuse with Laura at its center. Rarely has a character faced such isolation and despair and yet found peace through inner strength. And rarely has a character had such a powerful presence in a show despite having died before the opening credits ever rolled.
Debra Morgan (Jennifer Carpenter), Dexter – With a demeanor that conveys intense vulnerability and self-doubt, Debra nonetheless perseveres in her constant struggle to prove herself and honor the memory of her father. She rises through the ranks of the Miami PD propelled by sheer determination. That determination may be a bit obsessive, but that doesn't make it less admirable. Debra has endured judgement, scorn, and monumental betrayal over the years, but hasn't let those things destroy her faith in humanity. She has continued the good fight uncompromisingly.
Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew), Star Trek: Voyager – Captain Janeway may be the most in-control female character out there. She radiates calm, thoughtful self-assurance. With the fate of her crew at stake on a dangerous mission through the unknown, she hardly ever allows herself to show weakness, feeling that she needs to provide an example of courage and endurance for those under her command. As is the case with many strong women, her detractors have said that she's cold and inflexible; but Janeway takes it all in stride, and disarms the critics with competence and good humor.
Juliet Burke (Elizabeth Mitchell), Lost – Lost is filled with tough women, but Juliet wins out for her intelligence, her decisiveness, her willingness to switch sides according to her own moral compass, and her self-sacrificing instincts in the face of death. In a confusing world where the smallest choice would seem to have profound metaphysical consequences, she keeps her head and puts the happiness of others ahead of her own. Plus, she's almost certainly the only character in the history of television – male or female – to hit a nuclear bomb repeatedly with a rock.
Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner), Alias – They just don't come any better than Syd. She'll win your heart with her genuine compassion, and she'll kick your ass if you cross the line. She goes through all kinds of hell during Alias' five-season run, never knowing whom to trust or what to believe; and yet she never gives up, saving the world like it's going out of style. She proves that being a strong, sexy, and skilled woman doesn't mean you have to shut off your emotions, nor does it mean you can't be a loyal and trusting friend. There's a reason why Alias fans get all choked-up when they talk about the show, and that reason is Sydney Bristow.
Check out Buzzine's Top 10 Strong Female Characters on our Amazon Listmania!