The most iconic female characters on TV reveal complex qualities that make them interesting and not at all flat. Memorable female performances aid empowerment, showing characters with substance, complex and three-dimensional. The settings in which they take place allow, the female audience, to realize that they can assume any role in society, in positions that demand power, creativity or where molds have to be broken.
In television, there are a great number of female characters that cause attraction and admiration, but some of them stand out among others for being iconic, unique and well written. If written and performed well, these women live in viewers’ memories for a long time, either because they are inspiring, strong, funny, warriors or even with a touch of madness. They may not necessarily models of what is morally right, but they demonstrate great variety on the screen. Without further delay, here are the ten greatest female characters who are many things except flat.
10 Leslie Knope (Parks & Recreation)
Amy Poehler plays an ambitious and optimistic public employee, who hopes, one day, to occupy high positions in government. Although she has a mid-level position at the beginning of the series, she is confident that it is only the beginning of her career in politics, where she hopes to provide better benefits for her city.
Leslie Knope is a character known for promoting gender equality, support among women and empowerment. For this reason, she is seen as a positive figure, who is not only strong, intelligent and with a personality, but also has an enormous enthusiasm, commitment and vocation for her work. The way she looks at each situation in a positive way sometimes makes her distort reality, but this also allows her to keep the best intentions.
9 Veronica Mars (Veronica Mars)
This fictional character went through many situations that made the role more complex. Veronica Mars is narrated with flashbacks and voice-overs, where a carefree and sweet girl, becomes cynical and resentful after living the rejection of her friends, the abandonment of her mother and a rape she cannot report to a sheriff who calls her a liar.
New friendships allow Veronica to leave her cynical facade and begin a new phase in her life, where she uses her skills as a detective to help people, in a scenario that encourages loyalty. Veronica Mars is seen as a very real character because she is strong, intelligent, vulnerable, complex, admirable and with flaws, contrasting her personality traits.
8 Annalise Keating (How to Get Away With Murder)
Annalise Keating’s seemingly perfect life, shown at the beginning of the series, falls apart as the character is introduced. The defense lawyer and criminal law professor has a high profile, power, recognition and a good marriage, but appearances can be deceiving.
Actress Viola Davis has been praised for this role which has earned her several awards. The character shows depth of emotion, is charismatic, brilliant, passionate and willing to confront conflict. Annalise Keating is full of surprises and it is never possible to predict what her next step will be, managing to calculate and manipulate scenarios to her advantage, so that she never looks bad.
7 Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is one of the most iconic female characters on television. She has powers like strength, speed, reflexes, healing and superhuman agility that allow her to be a slayer of supernatural beings like demons and vampires.
The character is a born leader and fighter, who gives good lessons in self-defense and combat, so she is seen as one of the strongest roles on TV. Buffy’s personality changes, becoming less social and popular in her school to protect her loved ones.
6 Daenerys Targaryen (Game of Thrones)
In the popular TV series Game of Thrones, many powerful female characters are featured, but Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) is one of the most recognized by fans, for her three dragons, the large number of titles, her strength and resolution.
Although many fans showed their discontent with Daenerys’ ending due to how abrupt it felt, in reality, Daenerys Targaryen shows her personality in every season, with actions that have been progressively justified. But in the end, this ambition for power makes her commit any atrocity in the name of her interests. The spectators’ hatred for the destruction of a character they loved does not diminish the importance, strength and depth that the Breaker of Chains still has.
5 Selina Meyer (Veep)
Selina Meyer is the vice president of the United States at the beginning of the first season of the HBO series. Throughout the development of the story, Selina goes through different vicissitudes that make this comedy one of the best of all times.
With biting lines and an incredible performance by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep has achieved records in major awards such as the Emmy and Golden Globes. The political scene is ideal for this comedy, which features fictional characters with a lot of resemblance to some real-life ones, where the protagonist has higher aspirations and over time gains influence and power that help meet challenges.
4 June ‘Offred’ Osborne (The Handmaid’s Tale)
The character based on Margaret Atwood’s novel has great depth, where gestures and silences often say more than words. June must abandon her name (and adopt Offred) when she becomes part of the commander’s service, in an oppressive society that has stolen all their freedom and imposed new rules for them.
The loss of identity, equality and justice makes Offred (Elisabeth Moss) break out at certain times, but the great intelligence she possesses allows her to think everything through twice, in order to achieve her goals, which many times only consist of surviving. An intense character within a powerful story, where women are seen as mere instruments to procreate, living in a cruel society.
3 Liz Lemon (30 Rock)
30 Rock creator Tina Fey took inspiration from her work as a screenwriter on Saturday Night Live, managing to build a hilarious scenario that showed the behind-the-scenes of a TV show. With the character of Liz Lemon, she created a type of woman that rarely appeared in the media.
Lemon is considered, by many people, one of the best characters on TV, with a lot of layers that reveal a real person with incoherencies. Among her most outstanding characteristics are clumsiness, disorder, chaos, intelligence, sarcasm and her love of food. With the role, Tina Fey laughs at herself and everything around her.
2 Eve Polastri (Killing Eve)
Sandra Oh stars in a spy thriller that has surprised many and left many fans engaged. Eve is a UK intelligence agent who becomes obsessed with a contract killer, starting the game of cat and mouse. The role is exploited to the maximum by Sandra Oh, who takes advantage of a plot that crumbles and studies two female characters and invites reflection on loneliness and murder.
The chase throws a great deal of chemistry onto the screen, between two women who are united by events. Polastri is an intelligent, realistic, fairly commonplace fictional character, but with a desire for an extraordinary life, which brought a lot to the spotlight at the moment.
1 Miriam ‘Midge’ Maisel (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Amy Sherman-Palladino knows how to create great female characters. One of them is Midge Maisel, a housewife from the ’50s, who is starting a comedy career in New York. Rachel Brosnahan plays this hilarious and talented person, saying one of the best dialogues for television today, with a quite accelerated pace, characteristic of Sherman-Palladino.
The comedy is inspired by pioneering female comedians such as Totie Fields and Joan Rivers, narrating how women had to make space for themselves in the entertainment world. Mrs. Maisel, as she begins to be known in the comedy scenes, develops a sharp humor, ahead of her time, that makes people see that talent, intelligence, femininity and beauty can go hand in hand.
NEXT: 10 Amazing Films That Had Female Director
Dungeons and Dragons: 5 Most Bad Ass Classes (& The 5 Weakest)
About The AuthorEdgary Rodríguez R. is a writer, video producer and journalist. She writes in different publications about films, TV, politics, human rights, travel, art, environment, social justice, among others. Can also be found in Siena Post.
More About Edgary Rodriguez R.