Wonder Woman came out last week, and as I already have a Top 5 celebrating great female film characters coming up in the future I decided to instead focus on some of the my favourite female Television characters instead. Obviously this list is highly reflective of my own TV tastes, but I’d love to hear what female TV characters you guys love and are inspired by. There were so many great characters I wanted to write about, including Brienne and Sansa in Game of Thrones, Annalise Keating in How To Get Away With Murder, Melinda May on Agents of Shield, and a number of the characters portrayed by Tatiana Maslany on Orphan Black, but sadly there just wasn’t room in this Top 10.
10) River Song (Doctor Who) – I’ve said before that I’m a huge fan of Professor River Song. Her first appearance alongside Tennant in the 4th Season Library 2-parter was such a brilliant introduction for the character. She was surrounded with an air of mystery, and Alex Kingston’s performance made you want to find out more. Kingston’s subsequent chemistry with Matt Smith is what made her a truly enduring recurring character on the show, and kept people buying into her slightly ridiculous timeline. Even her (probably) final appearance alongside Capaldi’s Doctor managed to elevate a mediocre Christmas Special to an incredibly emotional and beautiful episode. I always looked forward to episode with River Song; she was a true match for The Doctor, and anyone else the Universe could throw at her.
9) Lily Aldrin (How I Met Your Mother) – Of the two main women in How I Met Your Mother Lily is easily the stand out. Robin was almost played as a female version of Barney in later seasons, whereas Lily remained a fiercely individual and incredible character. Often seen as the voice of reason on the show, she wasn’t above fits of childishness, and could hold her own against any of the other characters when it came to wit and throwing around jokes. Alyson Hannigan is an incredible actress, and managed to deliver some of the best scenes from the show’s history. Lily is probably the most like the average person from this list, but she is definitely the kind of person that many people would aspire to be like.
8) Chloe Sullivan (Smallville) – A completely original creation for the world of Superman, Chloe quickly became one of my favourite characters. Once they got out of her ‘just has unrequited love for Clarke’ phase she became one of the strongest characters. Even in those early seasons it was her pushing investigations into the ‘wall of weird’ that propelled many of the storylines as she took much of the Lois Lane role as a reporter. But later on she more involved in assisting Clark, Oliver, and the rest of the new Justice League. She was always one of the smartest and most inquisitive characters on the show, and showed just how much young women could achieve if they put passion into things.
7) Pam Poovey (Archer) – In the earliest seasons I’m not quite sure the show knew what to do with Pam. She was often the butt of a lot of the jokes, and not always the best at standing up for herself. But the quickly managed to make her one of the most likeable and relatable characters on a show full of hilarious and zany people. What always makes Pam stand out to me is her incredible, and near unshakable, confidence in herself. She’s a plus size woman, but never really lets it affect her. She’s capable in drift car racing and bare-knuckle boxing, and even managed to overcome a cocaine addiction in the 5th season. She is hilarious, awesome, and as the show goes on becomes one of the few characters that actually demands respect.
6) Cersei Lannister (Game of Thrones) – In my eyes Cersei is one the Queen of Westeros at this point. Mainly because she’s one of the only characters left in the show who truly represents what’s brilliant about it. Fleshed out 3 dimensional people, who are neither just good nor bad, in a fantasy setting where all too often people are extremely black and white. Cersei is a character that has suffered horrendous abuse in her life; emotional abuse from her father, physical and sexual abuse from her former husband, but she’s managed to overcome that and rise to power as the Queen. Many people see her as extremely uncaring, but that’s completely untrue. There aren’t many people she opens up to on the show, but those she does you can tell she truly loves such as her children and Jaime. Cersei is by a long way my favourite character left on Game of Thrones, and I will be incredibly sad if she gets killed off leaving the way for blander characters like Jon or Daenerys to take her place.
5) River Tam (Firefly) – I knew a Firefly character had to make the list. As much as I wanted to include Inara, who never apologised for her work as a Companion and wouldn’t take crap from anyone (especially Mal), or Kaylee, who is one of the few examples of female engineers (or similar role) in Film or Television, I’ve ended up going for River. The enigmatic, and kickass, escapee from Government experiments, River has been shown to be an incredibly intelligent character, but plagued by her psychic powers. Summer Glau somehow managed to make this completely outlandish character so relatable, and have the audience truly care about her. As with everyone in the Serenity crew River Tam isn’t a traditional heroine, but you cannot help but root for her. Even when she’s sidelined in stories she has some of the absolute best moments, like when she manages to distract Badger whilst he holds the crew hostage.
4) Willow Rosenberg (Buffy The Vampire Slayer) – This isn’t the first time Alyson Hannigan has appeared on this list, and this time it is in my favourite show of all time. I mean has there ever been a better drawn out character development that Willow? From the shy, nerdy, tech girl, to budding young Witch, to powerful dark sorceress, to the shining light she became in the Series finale, Willow had an incredible journey throughout Buffy. Willow is such a powerful character for those quieter, nerdier fans of the show, much like myself, because of everything she achieves from her meeker beginings. She was also part of one of the first lesbian relationships on mainstream television with Tara. Oh and it doesn’t hurt when there’s an evil vampire version of the character who seriously kicks ass.
3) Leslie Knope (Parks & Recreation) – You want to talk about inspirational? Then who is more inspiration than Leslie Knope She is such an incredible role model for young women, and people, everywhere. She’s so driven, passionate, caring, and unselfish. In many ways Leslie almost comes across as superhuman, but brilliant writing, and equally brilliant performance from Amy Poehler, mean that she stays a relatable and real character. She has a lot of quirks, and so often finds herself frustrated in the show, but reaction to adversity and judgement is yet another reason for so many people to look up to her.
2) Sarah Jane Smith (Doctor Who, The Sarah Jane Adventures) – Sarah Jane Smith is unquestionably the greatest companion in Doctor Who history. She travelled with both the 3rd and 4th Doctors, two of the absolute best, and was even brought back in the 10th Doctor episode School Reunion. Even all those years later Sarah Jane still managed to connect with audiences, and she was one of the first to truly set out what the companion would become. Every companion who came after, even from the modern series, owes a debt of gratitude to Sarah Jane. Beyond that she even helmed her own show, where the character became more of a motherly and mentoring figure to a group of young teens. Elisabeth Sladen’s charm managed to make this a great spinoff show, without her it just wouldn’t have found an audience. Sarah Jane is still in my mind the greatest companion in Doctor Who history, and it will take someone incredible to change that view.
1) Buffy Summers (Buffy The Vampire Slayers) – I couldn’t leave Buffy out. She’s the main character in my favourite show of all time, and she’s one of the most inspirational women ever put on screen. Sarah Michelle Gellar’s version of the character appears on the surface to be a typical popular high school girl, much like Cordelia was, but right from the start her compassion shone through. Obviously she is incredibly capable when it comes to handling herself against the multitude of supernatural foes, but she manages to do that whilst dealing with so many of the regular challenges that high school and college students have to cope with. Buffy Summers is a true feminist icon, and one of the greatest characters every created in any medium, not just on Television. Buffy is worthy character to top this list.