If you think this is an odd post for me, then you don’t really know me. It is a subject in which I have quite an interest…it is also an important subject for the future—of the real world, I suppose. But that is another subject altogether…
Since we’ll almost never meet any outstanding, strong, honourable real women, we’re left with fictional characters. Characters on the following list seem to be one-in-a-billion, or just out-right fabrications. Nevertheless they show us what is possible—they help keep hope alive, I reckon…
These aren’t the female characters that feminists (with a few exceptions from Cameron and Wheedon) cram down all of our throats (essentially: bossy, misandric (man-hating or-and man-bashing), smug, greedy, materialistic, superficial control-freak sluts or bald-faced whores…or some combination of these) on a constant basis. What they term “powerful” women. Power is another word for control.
I’m not talking about women who are adept at controlling others—there is nothing great in one’s character if one does this. Nor is there anything independent about controlling others—without the others, the control-freak is lost and inept at life…
How many women are capable (or even interested in) controlling themselves?
What is greatness? What is character?
I use the word “great” here in place of the word “strong.”
Greatness of character is not just found in positive action, assertive and direct action (not using “magic” or forces—or other characters—to do one’s bidding), which needs courage, since there is a risk of injury or worse in such action; nor is it limited to having great or vast abilities. It is moreso about being honourable, standing by one’s word, having integrity and honesty—and being humble—as well as putting one’s convictions into practice. It is also about growing out of vices and childishness and into virtues and adulthood…
What about the willingness and ability to fight for a righteous cause? What about wisdom? What about sacrificing oneself for the cause? What about giving to and helping others, or enduring hardship and suffering for others?
What about doing something selfless and not wanting rewards or credit?
I would say so…
Anyway, here is my list of great female characters—or, maybe more accurate: “great female action performances of women with strength of character.”
(Yeah, these are not performances of chicks sitting around yapping and sounding witty. Or standing around looking ‘pretty.’ Nope. Sorry, the girls actually have to do something. Something great…)
I’ve chosen ten for this entry. [Edit: I’ve revised the list. After finishing the testicle-numbingly-tediously-bogglingly bad (or kinda good? or too confused to judge it?) series Lost a second time, and reviewing the character of “Kate Austin,” I opted to replace her in the list and not mention her anywhere. I really don’t know what I was thinking, putting in the top ten—she’s not fit to be in the top one hundred. I must have remembered a couple of episodes in which she did something (other than whine, cry, butt into everyone else’s business, wear ultra-tight T-shirts, use sex to get her way, get people killed for her own selfish reasons, and try to be self-righteous and instead come across as a spoiled brat). I am embarrassed, and my head is lowered in admitting my mistake. Carry on.]
Nord’s Top Ten Great Female Characters…
10. “Kara Thrace” or ‘Starbuck’—series: Battlestar Galactica. Played by Katee Sackhoff.
A very real character—I couldn’t stand her at first (because she displayed several loathsome characteristics that I see and dislike in men, as well as some I dislike in women), yet she started to grow on me as the series went on. She grew as well—she went through a lot of shit and through it she became less arrogant, less bratty, less willful. I once called her a great ‘right-brained’ female character, and I still stand by that.
Also, she would have rated higher if her character hadn’t used Apollo as she did. As well as Anders. (I know she was based on the Starbuck of the original series, a male played by Dirk Benedict, a character who was a shallow, not-so-heroic womanizer, so I’ve taken that into consideration. If I hadn’t known this, she would not have made my list at all.)
9. “Rain”—movie: Resident Evil. Played by Michelle Rodriguez. (Similar character in Lost, if a tad bossy at first.)
Yunno, I am not really sure. Gonna think on it…
She is similar to the “Vasquez” character in Aliens, played by Jenette Goldstein. Who is also worthy of mention—I’d put her on my list if there was room.
And Rain’s a good, solid, tough, stand-up soldier in the movie—but that’s not really it either…
I really had to think about this one—for years the character stuck in my mind. And now I know why: she’s infected; she’s likely going to become a zombie, and she knows it. Does she cry and give up? Does she insist upon becoming the center of attention? Does she put herself before everything and everyone else?
No. Not at all. Look at how she handles it! With poise, courage, integrity, and even humour. I don’t remember her complaining—not once.
A female who does not complain when she’s suffering, even when facing a fate worse than death—that’s the main reason this one made my list.
8. “Ellen Ripley”—movies: Aliens and Alien3. Played by Sigourney Weaver.
(Similar character in Alien, but that’s it. What I mean is that I will not acknowledge any later movies in this ‘franchise.’)
She’s easily one of the most (if not the most) famous ‘strong female’ characters of all time, as far as action movies go. I didn’t always approve of how she did things, but she got it done. And she wasn’t just a total bitch—or just like a dude with no dick—character; she’s got a heart, and stands up for what’s right.
7. “Sarah Connor”—movie: Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Played by Linda Hamilton. (Somewhat* similar character in The Terminator—yet I can’t speak for the “Sarah Connor” character in the TV series.)
*Somewhat because in the first movie she’s just an average slob. She’s thrust into a role she never wanted and a future that will give her nightmares, and she handles it pretty well.
It is what she becomes that interests me—the growth from a silly little girl into a tough, responsible woman of profound resolve. The arc of this character is truly epic. (If it wasn’t for her slight feminist rant in Judgment Day, I’d have rated her higher.)
6. “Ensign Ro Laren,” Star Trek: The Next Generation. Played by Michelle Forbes.
She’s the only decent (regular) female character in the whole series… Forbes was also quite good as Admiral Cain in Battlestar Galactica, if a wee bit borderline sociopathic. But anyway, Ro Laren is cool because she has an attitude, a conscience, and has character. She grew up suffering under an occupation by a brutal alien regime. At some point she joined the resistance and fought for her freedom and for the freedom of her people and planet, while other meaningless Trek characters like “Counselor Deanna Troi” were munching chocolate and naming emotions…
Later she disobeyed Starfleet and dull, dreary company-man Picard again when she refused to betray the spirit of her people (when she assigned to infiltrate the Maquis).
I like her because she’s a rebel and has guts. She’s tough and is a survivor. And she’s honourable.
5. “Aeryn Sun”—series: Farscape. Played by Claudia Black.
One of the all-round best female characters I’ve seen in films or TV series. If I was ever in a fight for my life, against all odds, this is the type of woman I’d want by my side.
Again, what an amazing character arc Aeryn has over the four plus seasons of Farscape.
A brutally honest, straight-forward, loyal, honourable female character. Tough as nails. And yet still human. She is a character that was in many ways a robotic killing machine, now adapting to a different world, a different life, and an uncertain future.
A really outstanding character.
4. “Seven Of Nine”—series: Star Trek: Voyager. Played by Jeri Ryan.
Nearly every time I mention strong characters (regardless of sex) in Star Trek with other guys, and bring up Seven, immediately there is some implication of me choosing her because of her chest size. It’s fucking annoying.
You may have noticed that nowhere in this post will you find any references to female body parts whatsoever, nor is there anything concerning appearance. I really don’t give a shit about all that. This is about character, for crissakes.
That said, I really liked Seven’s character in Voyager (which was almost unwatchable, for the most part, otherwise). Janeway was a smug, hypocritical Kirk-wanna-be; Torres was just an annoying bitch (too bad they could not have made her a full-blooded Klingon chick—then we would have had something). Seven blew away all other characters on that series—the male ones too. Made them look flighty, immature, insignificant, 2D and weak.
In fact, she was more impressive than any female character in any Star Trek series. (The TGN chicks were especially god awful, with one exception…see below.)
A ‘recovering’ borg drone, Seven adjusts to being human again—and being female again. There are some interesting stories, and I enjoyed watching the character develop over the seasons (a bright spot of an otherwise dull TV series full of cardboard cut-outs and boring motherfuckers).
She is brave, resilient, and an all-round stand-up chick. She’s all business most of the time, very intelligent, and can kick butt. She’s the strong, silent type.
3. “Illyria”—series: Angel. Played by Amy Acker.
She was a powerful demon-bitch at first, and then she gets humbled, losing almost all of her powers, and goes through some shit, trying to find where she belongs and what she’ll be in this thing that has become her life. From being immortal and being worshiped as a matter of course…to being mortal and having to earn the respect of others.
I found Illyria an extremely compelling character—I think she steals the show in season 5 of Angel.
Like Seven of Nine, her character is trying to discover her humanity (and neither one does this by choice). This speaks to the female human condition, I think, in that no girl or woman will or can enter into greatness by choice or through the force of her own will. Those who try can become ‘leaders’—pale, lesser reflections of feminized men who sought wealth and power as well—but nothing great at all. Just twisted control-freaks and money-grubbers. Status-seekers. Losers in fancy clothes made for them by far better human beings…
Great men—and great women—do not seek leadership; they have it thrust upon them, or they come to it inadvertently, accidentally, and painfully.
It is the same for great characters, I think—you come to it not of your own volition. Shit happens and how you adapt signifies whether or not you reach greatness—but shit always has to happen first. Like genius itself, you can’t learn it in school; you can’t pick it up at a workshop or seminar… Only life can teach it and make it happen—and what you go through to reach it barely makes it all worthwhile.
Such is life…
Anyway, Illyria’s character is strong, fierce, direct and honest; her arrogance and self-absorption gets replaced by humility and the desire to help the group fight evil.
2. “Michonne”—series: The Walking Dead. Played by Danai Gurira.
She is ass-kicking awesomeness; a troubled warrior with a heart of gold. One of the most watchable characters on The Walking Dead. And among the few female characters who aren’t irritating in one way or another.
Another strong, silent type. Gets it done, takes no shit, and never complains. Absolutely stand-up chick. And it’s so refreshing to have a non-sexual character who is as tough and capable as she is (i.e. no fucking ‘love interest’ for her yet—yeah, I know it’s coming, but I’m going to enjoy this extremely rare event before it does).
1. “Etain”—movie: Centurion. Played by Olga Kurylenko.
She is probably my favourite female character of any film.
I have seen things like: “Etain betrays the legion to Gorlacon, leading them into a trap where they are annihilated.” So, the Legion (an invading army in ancient Britannia that raped and murdered and conquered) is the good guy in this film…?
Fine. Yet I was not cheering for them—I wanted Etain to kill them all. And free her people from opression. Fuck Rome.
Betraying a terrible and ruthless invader is no betrayal. It is just another weapon to fight a more advanced enemy… How is it possible to betray evil? You simply fight it, any way you can…
And there is: “Olga will play Etain, a savage-looking Pict warrior woman.” Yeah. Hell, yeah. Savage, uncivilized woman indeed. Awesome. Outstanding. Wonderful. Unique. Fucking brilliant…
The director, Marshall, said: “Etain is kind of revenge incarnate. Her family were butchered by the Romans, she had her tongue cut out by the Romans, she’s had a hell of a time and she’s out for Roman blood.”
Yet she’s a lieutenant of the leader of this Pict tribe, Gorlacon, trying to drive the bloody Romans off their island—and she does not put her personal shit before the needs of her people.
And she dies for them—not for revenge.
Worthy of Note…
Female characters that would likely make my list…if my list was longer:
“Trinity,” Carrie-Anne Moss—Matrix series. Quite good, but I never found her exactly great. Good in some action sequences, but she’s clearly in the story as a dreaded “love interest” for Neo.
“Katniss Everdeen,” Jennifer Lawrence—The Hunger Games movies. Not bad…maybe great by the end of the series. There are some thing I don’t like about this character, but many I do. Perhaps I’ll get more into this another time, and when the series has concluded.
“Alice,” Milla Jovovich—Resident Evil movies. Cool, if slightly not believable. Still, pretty good.
“Selene,” Kate Beckinsale—Underworld movies. She was alright, I guess. I must confess that I don’t recall all that much from these movies. Cannot speak for Rhona Mitra as this character when Beckinsale left, apparently, because I missed that movie.
“Arwen,” Liv Tyler—The Lord of the Rings trilogy. If only there was more for her to do in the Two Towers and the Return of the King, other than sit and stare and cry. In the Fellowship, she rocked. Even though she never really kicked anyone’s ass, she got it done—took out the black riders and got Frodo to safety. Which brings me to…
“Tauriel,” Evangeline Lilly—The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. And the Desolation of Smaug, or however that’s spelled. What “Arwen” could have been…
And last but not least…
“Éowyn” (daughter of King Theoden), Miranda Otto—The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Return of the King.
Female action stars who didn’t make my list, and why…
“Yu Shu Lien,” Michelle Yeoh—Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Never saw the movie…
“Joan,” Milla Jovovich—The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc. Never saw the movie…
“Jean Grey,” Famke Janssen—X-Men movies. A very good, complex, strong character. Quite interesting progression, I found, in the development of this character. Yet without the use of her powers, she does nothing really…
“Andrea,” Laurie Holden—The Walking Dead series. The only thing that kept her off my list was that she fucked “The Governor” when she was planning on killing him—and by rights should have killed him. It is deceptive and dishonourable to use sex against someone—not a sign of greatness.
Aside from that, I really liked her character, especially how she grew as a person from season to season. From being a typical useless chick at the beginning, to wanting to kill herself, to becoming hardcore.
“Buffy Summers,” Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. Sorry, I prefer the strong, silent type—not the arrogant, chatty, sassy, snotty, immature, smart-assy, misandric type.
“Faith Lehane,” Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel series. Better, but still too sassy and arrogant. I did enjoy how the character progressed from the self-important, chip-on-her-shoulder nasty punk-ass bitch in Buffy to the reformed semi-arrogant bitch-of-honour in Angel. This alone makes her worthy of note, too; yet it doesn’t make her great…
Am I being too picky?
“Lara Croft,” Angelina Jolie—Tomb Raider movies. Something about the character always rubbed me the wrong way, but the movies were so terrible that I don’t remember exactly what it is I don’t like about Jolie’s performance as Lara Croft. Maybe it was the writing of the character itself… (I played many of the video games, the second in particular, for years, so I know what I’m not talking about here. I know the Lara Croft character well. And the movies just did not capture it at all…)
Just can’t put my finger on it. Could it be simply Angelina Jolie?
No, this was way before I found here utterly vile…
“Galadriel,” Cate Blanchett—The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. And…yadda yadda of Smaug. Smuag? Smaug. Very cool…yet does nothing with her funky Elf powers…
Lucy Lawless—various. Character roles are either dishonourable (a treacherous Cylon from Battlestar Galactica) or misandric (Xena: Warrior Princess.) Fine actress; I just see nothing great in her characters…
“O-Ren Ishii,” Lucy Liu—Kill Bill movies. Character is a power hungry psychotic bitch.
“Elle Driver,” Daryl Hannah—Kill Bill movies. Character is a dishonourable psychotic bitch. (Why dishonourable?—way before she kills Budd with the snake, she was about to kill Beatrix, still in a coma and helpless, with a syringe of poison and was only stopped by a timely phone call by Bill…and, later, as Budd is dying she tells him her ‘regret’ is that this great warrior, Beatrix, was killed by a lowlife like him. What the fuck?).
“Beatrix Kiddo,” Uma Thurman —Kill Bill series. Character is a revenge-obsessed, selfish, vaguely honourable, murderous psychotic bitch.
“Sydney Bristow,” Jennifer Garner —Alias series. Character is lying, scheming, and manipulative, and she uses sexuality to get her way.
“Max Guevera,” Jessica Alba —Dark Angel series. Another manipulative, and misandric, character who uses sexuality to get her way.
There is no greatness in manipulating the biology of another through sexuality—it is dishonest and simply whorish.
That’s all that comes to mind. I’m sure there are others, but I’m not aware of these…
For those who will exclaim, “What about so-n-so,” fuck off and go make your own list.