In honor of Women’s History Month, here’s 10 of the most powerful fictional women in popular TV shows and movies that you can look up to while you’re watching.
- Kat Stratford from 10 Things I Hate About You
In this 1990s retelling of The Taming of the Shrew, Kat Stratford is first introduced when she is blaring “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett in her car as she passes some other high school girls. It is completely clear that she doesn’t conform to the social hierarchy and is very proud of that fact. Even though she can be somewhat antisocial and intimidating, she is a witty character that isn’t afraid to speak her mind, even if she doesn’t align with the majority.
Memorable Quote: “I don’t like to do what people expect. Why should I live up to other people’s expectations instead of my own?”
- Elena Alvarez from One Day at a Time
Elena is a Latinx lesbian that is both politically active and in the top of her high school class, applying to multiple ivy league colleges such as Harvard and Yale. She often speaks her mind, and consistently takes actions that align with her values (such as proudly coming out as gay and standing by her identity even if some of her family members aren’t supportive of it or dressing up as Greta Thunberg and an Iceberg with her significant other, Syd, to get people to sign a petition regarding climate change). Throughout the series, Elena is a part of some of the most emotional scenes. One scene in particular is when she stands up to her father in their first conversation since he abandoned her at her Quinceneara after she came out to him as gay.
Memorable Quote: “I’m really tough, and when I do stumble, I have the most amazing mom who is always right there to pick me up. So, whatever dude, I’m moving on with my life. I’m going to be fine. I’m just really bummed out for you. You’re going to miss a lot of stuff, and that sucks, because I’m pretty great.”
- Dr. Cristina Yang from Grey’s Anatomy
Dr. Cristina Yang is arguably one of the most ambitious characters in the Grey’s Anatomy universe. She found a love for Cardiothoracic Surgery early on in the series, and continues to work hard to get to where she wants to be throughout the series. She holds her intellect and skills to the highest of standards, especially since she strives to be the best in everything that she does. Near her departure from the show, she is offered the job of her dreams as the Director of Cardiothoracic Surgery at a renowned medical research facility and hospital in Switzerland.
Memorable Quote: “Have some fire. Be unstoppable. Be a force of nature. Be better than anyone here, and don’t give a damn what anyone thinks. There are no teams here, no buddies. You’re on your own. Be on your own.”
- Eve Polastri (and Villanelle) from Killing Eve
At the start of the show, an MI6 agent named Eve Polastri becomes obsessed with investigating an assassin that calls herself Villanelle. Eve and Villanelle constantly play a game of cat-and-mouse as the series goes on, showing each of their strengths and weaknesses. Eve and Villanelle are both intelligent and skillful at their job. Villanelle takes on multiple personas and often overpowers victims that are bigger in size than her. Even though Eve is inexperienced compared to her team members, she is still the only person that can even come close to Villanelle. With the influence from Villanelle, Eve becomes stronger and more accepting of herself and what she wants. Even though Eve is trying to catch Villanelle and Villanelle is an extremely dangerous assassin, the show often hints at a romantic relationship growing between the two female main characters. As Eve and Villanelle are stronger when together, this would just make these two even more powerful.
Eve Memorable Quote: “You want me to be a mess. You want me to be scared. But I’m like you now, I’m not afraid of anything.”
Villanelle Memorable Quote: “You can see scary people a mile away. It's the good people you have to worry about.”
- Sabina, Jane, Elena, and Bosley from Charlie’s Angels (2019)
Unlike the classic 1970s TV show or the more recent 2000s movies, this movie takes more of a modern feminism take. The two Angels, Sabina and Jane, are extremely skilled in combat, and are shown multiple times using techniques that would allow a woman their size to take down someone much larger. Elena is extremely intelligent and works in a field that is dominated by men, which is one of the many reasons that she enlists the help of the Angels in the first place. Bosley is the first Angel that was promoted to a higher ranking, so she is also very intelligent and skilled in combat. All of these characters are truly empowering and use their femininity to their advantage.
Sabina Memorable Quote: “I think women can do anything.”
Jane Memorable Quote: “You see, it was my mentor, Edgar, who taught me how to win a fight! You thought you beat me twice before? No! I was learning. You’ve got seven moves, Mr. Hodak. I know them all. Seven moves, and a fragile ego.”
Elena Memorable Quote: “I want to help. Look, I am not just some frightened girl in your witness protection program. You need help getting in and out of someplace, I can do it. I can hack any system, and I can do it fast. You need me, Mrs. Bosley. And don’t tell me I can’t do it, because I know I can. I’m done sitting still. I’ve had a taste. I want more. I want in.”
Bosley Memorable Quote: “Send the love.”
- Hermione Granger from Harry Potter
Like many other female heroines, Hermione Granger always stands up for herself and is never afraid to speak her mind at any point in time. She’s often referred to for her knowledge and love of books, but she is also one of the strongest wizards to ever attend Hogwarts, outranking both Harry and Ron with how competent she is with magic. She is one of the first examples of a female character that showed that girls can do anything that boys can do.
Memorable Quote: “I hope you’re pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed– or worse, expelled.”
- Dr. Rainbow Johnson from Black-ish
Dr. Rainbow Johnson is notorious for always correcting people that her correct title is “Dr.” instead of “Mrs.”, but why is that a funny thing? She earned that title through the years of extraneous work that led to her becoming an Anesthesiologist. She’s not only an Anesthesiologist, but also the first black woman to ever become a partner at her hospital. She prides herself on her accomplishments and is never shy to call people out.
Memorable quote: “You can't make decisions just to prove someone's idea about you is wrong. You have to follow your heart, and when you do... you'll be a part of something you love for all the right reasons.”
- Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games
Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire, sparks a flame of rebellion within the people of Panem. She is strong and independent, being the primary caregiver for her family ever since she was eleven years old. Even though the odds are certainly not in her favor, she fights against everyone who could doubt her and proves to be the strongest district tribute. Katniss’ immediate reaction to volunteer for her younger sister when her name is called is just one of the many things that show what an outstanding character she is.
Memorable Quote: “I volunteer as tribute” or “Fire is catching, and if we burn, you burn with us!”
- Wanda Maximoff AKA Scarlet Witch (and honestly all the women) from WandaVision
Wanda has gone through tragedy after tragedy in her life, but she always seems to find a way to power through it. Whether it be connecting with a new person or creating her own reality, she finds strength to get through it. Wanda is one of the most powerful superheroes to ever exist, but it is her character and resilience is what truly shines through.
Memorable Quote: “I have what I want and no one will ever take it from me again.” or “It’s just like a wave washing over me, again and again. It knocks me down, and when I try to stand up, it just comes for me again. It’s just gonna drown me.”
- Elle Woods from Legally Blonde
Elle Woods is a feminist icon that breaks all stereotypes of who a blonde from California should be and how she should behave. She starts off this journey chasing a guy, but inevitably ends up finding herself and her dream career. She doesn’t let anyone get in her way, and uses her specific skill set to further launch her into her law career. After being appointed to defend a client who is on trial for her husband’s murder and being successful in the end, she becomes valedictorian of her class at Harvard Law School and has a very promising career and life ahead of her.
Memorable Quote: “You must always have faith in people. And most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself.” or “What, like it’s hard?”