Geeks have very special relationships with their favorite characters, and as of late, it’s even included female characters who were often overlooked in Sci-Fi and fantasy. Women had been neglected of being relevant in fiction up until the mid 90s, when they became more than just love interests of the main, male character, and even starred their own shows.
This is our list of our favorite women in sci-fi and fantasy. Now, keep in mind, we’re not choosing them just because “they’re hot” or “the show is cool,” but because they’re actually great characters who happen to be female. We hope you enjoy this feature!
Leia Organa (Star Wars)
We would get death threats if we didn’t include this: a classic character, and one of the first females gone right in Sci-Fi, Princess Leia is one of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars universe. Leia is a Rebel leader, one of the key figures in the organization fighting the evil Empire, where her biological father is a high general. Even though she has to be rescued a couple times during the saga, she’s far from being a spoiled, useless princess, and knows both how to talk, do politics, and hold her own with her blaster. We can only imagine how much ass her and Han Solo’s children would kick.
Éowyn (Lord Of The Rings)
Éowyn is probably the strongest female character in the Lord of the Rings saga. Let’s get this out of the way first, her portrayal in the movie is not half as cool as it is in the books (nothing against Miranda Otto, she did great, but we blame Jackson’s clumsy direction for this), but even if this is the case, she’s one of the characters with the deepest story and motives in the series. Éowyn resents the belief that, because she’s a woman, can’t join her comrades in war, and achieve glory of her own. She ends up dressing as a soldier under the name Dernhelm, and along Merry confronts the Lord of the Nazgûl in battle, in order to protect her king and uncle, Théoden. As the battle progresses, the Witch King claims that “no living man may hinder [him]“, referring to an old prophecy that claimed he wouldn’t die at the hands of a man. Éowyn replies: “But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am, Éomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him,” and then proceeded to kick his beastly butt. Damn, she rocks.
Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Buffy Summers, former stereotypical valley girl, sees her life take a 180 degree turn when a man named Merrick informs her that she has been chosen to be the next in a long line of vampire slayers in her first movie. She reluctantly accepts, and moves in to Sunnydale, a small Californian town where along some fellow outcasts, and under the supervision of her watcher, Gilles, they form the Scooby Gang to deal with paranormal occurrences, once the first episode of her show starts. Buffy became an icon of vampire-slaying, and doing the opposite of what stereotypical movies did: there’s no cute, helpless girl getting killed by monsters, but quite the opposite. All the while, the series is spiced up with teenage drama, a solid support cast, antagonist that are not black-or-white, and some of Josh Whedon’s characteristic witty dialog.
Zoe, Inara, River and Kaylee (Firefly)
We couldn’t decide who was the best female character of the show, so we included them all. That’s how good this show is. The only thing these girls have in common with each other is that they were part of the Serenity’s crew, all of them developing different tasks. From left to right on the picture above, Zoe is a war veteran and second-in-command after Captain Mal, River is a former genius girl who had experiments performed on her and is now battling her inner demons, and Inara is a companion (the 26th century equivalent of a geisha or courtesan) who rents a shuttle in the ship. Also, we have to mention Kaylee is the ship’s mechanic, awesome in her own right. All of them, strong characters on their own, are key figures in the story the TV show Firefly and it’s movie conclusion Serenity portray: a depiction of a space-western where the main characters are smugglers trying to make a living and lay low after having been in the losing faction of a former war against the Alliance. By the way, this show was also created by Josh Whedon, so everything good we noted about Buffy still applies here.
Major Misato Katsuragi (Shin Seiki Evangelion)
In the 1996 anime Shin Seiki Evangelion (Neo Genesis Evangelion in some countries) we met Major Misato Katsuragi. She is one of the key figures of Nerv, an organization the survivors of a major extinction event created to defend themselves from a group of giants codenamed angels. Misato is in charge of planning strategies for dealing with these monsters and Tokyo-3’s defenses.
The most interesting part, though, is that besides altruism, Misato has a bunch of unresolved issues with her deceased father, which in the long run makes her crusade against the angels personal. She also gives a home to Asuka and Shinji, two orphan kids who pilot the multi-function robot Evangelion, mankind’s best weapon against Angels.
Lieutenant Commander Nyota Uhura (Star Trek)
Another classic character, Nyota Uhura is a member of the Enterprise crew in the original series, and one of the first black women to have a relevant role in a show. She was a part of the multi-cultural cast of the show, and in the fiction was in charge of communications. Every time all seemed lost, she saved everyone on board, and it’s safe to say there’d be no Spock or Kirk if she hadn’t saved their asses countless times.
Kara Thrace (Battlestar Galactica)
Kara Thrace is a re-imagining of Starbuck, a character in the original Battlestar Galactica. The original Starbuck was a male and this initially hit fans the wrong way, but it only took a few episodes to realize gender was not related in any way to how awesome she was. Despite being now a female, she does everything the original Starbuck was famous for: being cocky, insubordinate, liked gambling, smoking and kicked a whole lot of butt. In the show, the character evolves and learns the value of her own life as opposed to the almost-nihilism seen in the first few episodes.
Lieutenant Ellen Ripley (Alien)
Lieutenant Ellen Ripley is the main character throughout the Alien franchise. She changed every paradigm of the female character in an action movie, as well as being one of the few characters who is her own thing, and not defined by the men around her or her relationship with them. In the original movie, Ripley is a high officer in a mission to a deserted planetoid, where the crew finds an egg and takes it back on board. This turns out to be a terrible idea because the egg is carrying a parasite that, after infection a crew member, gives birth to a murderous alien who wants to have the crew for dinner.
Bonus! Awesome Female Fantasy Character: Arya (A Song of Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones)
While she definitely it too young for us to call her ‘hot,’ she does deserve recognition. Arya is the living proof that just because a character is a child she doesn’t have to suck. She is the daughter of Eddard Stark, a man appointed to be the new hand of the king after the previous one, a friend of his, passes away. Arya, his youngest daughter follows him into the city and instead of thinking of marriage like her elder sister, begins training in the art of the sword. Throughout the first season series (equivalent to the first book of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series), Arya argues with her father because she feels there has to be more to her existence than becoming some Lord’s wife, and wants to make a name for herself. Over the first book/season, fans see her understand about discipline, honor, and how corrupted the world can be, in such an endearing way that is impossible to not like her.