17 TV Shows And Movies That Actually Got The Whole “Strong Female Character” Thing Right, According To Viewers

A while back, I rounded up some movies that fans say actually do the “strong female character” trope the right way — i.e. giving us a well-rounded woman who isn’t just “strong” because she can fight or because she’s “one of the boys.” In the comments, members of the BuzzFeed Community shared more examples of movies and TV shows they think did the trope justice.

Here are 17 of their top answers:


“I can’t be the first to say Ripley [who’s played by Sigourney Weaver] in the Alien franchise, but I’m shocked she didn’t make the original list. She’s been my hero since I first saw the movie when I was 17.”

“She gets it done and survives in spite of what she’s up against, in spite of her fear. That’s the definition of a hero in my book.”


“Ellen Ripley had to fight for her own survival, then got brought back into danger and had to fight again, not only to save herself, but also Newt, who she was willing to die for to protect.”


“How could you make this list without including Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley in Alien? Unbelievable.”



“Leia Organa [played by Carrie Fisher in Star Wars], who held together a tenuous alliance at best, and continued on AFTER watching the death of her entire planet.”

“Is Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa too much of an icon to get a mention? I mean, it’s cool if she and Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley are so iconic we feel silly even having to mention them, I’m just checking.”



“Viola Davis [as Annalise Keating] in How to Get Away with Murder. When Annalise asks Sam why his penis is on a dead girl’s phone! CHEF’S KISS.”

“Pretty convinced Viola Davis doesn’t ‘act,’ just reads lines as herself.”


“Viola Davis plays incredibly strong, impressive women in nearly every role. She is one of the most incredible actors of all time and plays such heroic roles. An idol of mine.”



“When, in Little Women (2019), Jo [who’s played by Saoirse Ronan] says, ‘I’d rather be a free spinster and paddle my own canoe.’ That line has stuck with me for years.”


“The newest version of Little Women has the best version of Amy March [who’s played by Florence Pugh]. Everyone goes on about Jo, which I get, but in this movie, we get to see Amy as something other than superficial.”

“Women had limited options at that time, and Amy knows her responsibility to her family is to ‘marry well,’ but she also does not compromise herself.”



“On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine...[Terry Farrell’s character] Jadzia Dax [was] trans coded — a massive, massive deal for my tiny, queer self.”


“I thought Gwen from The Black Phone [who’s played by Madeleine McGraw] had a lot of spunk and bravery. She’s strong enough to stand up to her brother’s bullies, even though she ultimately lost that fight.”

“And she never gave up searching for him after he was kidnapped by a serial killer.”



“Shoutout to the pro-feminist characters who don’t get enough appreciation…[like] Mary Tyler Moore [as Mary Richards] on The Mary Tyler Moore Show — a show focusing on a single career woman, no kids.”


Laverne & Shirley [starring Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams as Laverne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney] — one of, if not the first, shows to focus on working class women.”


“The Bride [played by Uma Thurman] in the Kill Bill series was important to me. I appreciated her wrestling of actual fears and pain while still finding a way through.”


“Whoopi Goldberg [as Celie Harris Johnson] in The Color Purple. It takes A LOT to rise like she did.”


“One of my favorite things about Marisa Tomei [as Mona Lisa Vito] in My Cousin Vinny is that SHE basically saves the day WITH HER KNOWLEDGE OF CARS, totally defying stereotypes about women.”


“I would like to add Elle Fanning [as Catherine the Great] for The Great.”


“Éowyn from The Lord of the Rings [who’s played by Miranda Otto]. Yes, she has that crush on Aragorn, but she also rides into battle and kills the Witch King.”


“I’d add Sgt. Lorna Cole in Lethal Weapon 3 [who’s played by Rene Russo]. Not only can she take down a bunch of men who think (or thought) they were so tough, but she’s smart and funny to boot.”


And finally: “Elle Woods [who’s played by Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde]. And I think it starts to hit on a good point. Women, culturally, can only be ‘strong’ if they’re like men. If you like feminine things, then you must be dumb and weak. It’s a sign of misogyny that it’s so often seen as a dichotomy when, in actuality, a woman can be totally girly and still smart and strong.”

What’s your favorite example of a “strong female character” on TV or in a movie? What makes her “strong” in your eyes? Share your answers in the comments!

Note: Some responses have been edited for length/clarity.