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Hearting Her: 33 Daring Dames Who Make My Skirt Fly Up

By Cindy Davis | Seriously Random Lists | August 5, 2013 | Comments ()


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In compiling a list of television’s most kickass women, I was happy to find our cup more than half-full. There are so many great female characters, even just one show (HBO’s “Game of Thrones”) has several admirable ladies. Honestly, this list could have been never-ending, so feast your weary Monday eyes on these brainy, beautiful, brilliant double XXs—I’m sure you’ll have many more of your own to add.

1. Peggy Olson, “Mad Men”

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2. Megan Draper, “Mad Men”

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3. Cosima Niehaus, “Orphan Black”

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4. Jemma Teller, “Sons of Anarchy”

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5. Daenerys Targaryen, “Game of Thrones”

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6. Arya Stark, “Game of Thrones”

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7. Margaery Tyrell, “Game of Thrones”

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8. Olenna Tyrell, “Game of Thrones”

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9. Brienne of Tarth, “Game of Thrones”

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10. Kara Thrace, “Battlestar Galactica”

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11. Chloe O’Brian, “24”

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12. Kay Howard, “Homicide: Life on the Street”

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13. Robin Griffin, “Top of the Lake”

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14. Martha Jones, “Doctor Who”

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15. River Song, “Doctor Who”

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16. Sarah Jane Smith, “Doctor Who”

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17. Clara Oswald, “Doctor Who”

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18. Donna Noble, “Doctor Who”

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19. Rose Tyler, “Doctor Who”

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20. Rory Gilmore, “Gilmore Girls”

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21. Paris Geller, “Gilmore Girls”

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22. Mary Richards, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”

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23. Grace Hanadarko and Rhetta Rodriguez, “Saving Grace”

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24. Veronica Mars, “Veronica Mars”

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25. Dana Scully, “The X-Files”

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26. Stella Gibson, “The Fall”

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27. Claire Huxtable, “The Cosby Show”

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28. Ellen Parsons, “Damages”

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29. Ellie Miller, “Broadchurch”

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30. Ava Crowder, “Justified”

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31. Elsie Hughes, “Downton Abbey”

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32. Anna Bates, “Downton Abbey”

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33. Violet Crawley, “Downton Abbey”

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Cindy Davis, (Twitter) eagerly awaits your screams of “Leslie Knopes!” (don’t watch) “Yigritte!” and “Sarah Connor!” (don’t agree), and “This list is invalid!”




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Are you following Pajiba on Facebook or Twitter? Every time you do, Bill Murray crashes a wedding.


Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Bananapanda

    You miss Donna and the boss lady from Suits. (Not Rachel. That character needs to die or go to Wayne state law school already)

  • Bananapanda

    Boss lady is Jessica played by Gina Torres aka Zoe from Serenity

  • kkirkpat

    So many white ladies.

  • babykangarootribbiani

    any list that includes paris gellar is valid in my book. and what is "yigrette"? is that a character on something?

  • Welldressed

    Thank you Cindy for not including Ygritte, though I am with other in calling "Balderdash!" on no Kalinda.

  • xangiles

    No love for the Whedon Universe, where's Buffy Summers? Faith? Willow Rosenberg? How about "Fred" Burkle from Angel? Plus Zoe Washburn from Firefly. Not to mention River Tam from Serenity who could probably single-handedly tear the heart out of every other badass woman on your list!

  • katenonymous

    Kay Howard! Yes! She should be on all the lists.

  • dizzylucy

    Leslie Knope - Parks & Rec should be required viewing for all middle school girls.
    Rachel on Justified - what she did to the guy with the chickens this season!
    I'd vote for all the clones on Orphan Black, but they'd take up a good 20%+ of the list.

  • Muhnah_Muhnah

    I agree with some of it, disagree with some of it, such is life.

  • $65530708

    Additional: Olivia Dunham, Joan Watson, Joan Harris, Jaye Tyler, Kate Gregson, 'Boomer' Valerii, Amy Pond, and Britta Perry.

    *Additional Additions: Colleen McMurphy, Alice Morgan, Rachel Brooks, Carrie Mathison, Dani Reese and Trixie.

  • $65530708

    OH YEAH WHERE THE F*CK IS KIMA GREGS???

  • foolsage

    Britta was originally on the list, but then she Brittad everything and disqualified herself. Again. Which is to say that, although she's a good character (and one I like very much), Britta is not really much of an asskicker.

    I'd have to say much the same about Jaye. She was awesome, and I really enjoyed the show, but she didn't kick ass so much as have her ass kicked by life, in general. Jaye muddled through everything; she set out to be a slacker on purpose.

    Joan Watson definitely merits inclusion on the list.

  • $65530708

    Little Column A, Little Column B for both and by some of the selections *Cough Rory Cough* I didn't realize actually "ass kicking life" was a requirement as opposed to being great characters.

    I was going to add Annie Edison but I'm not willing to go that far.

  • Wigamer

    Two things--I need the same virgin blood that Gillian Anderson drinks in order to get HOTTER with age

    AND

    Because I love Cindy I will forgive the inclusion of Megan Fucking Draper.

  • KEM

    I definitely think there needs to be some Buffy love on here and Willow, though I'm super glad to see Donna and River, who is probably my favourite badass of all time. And gotta love Starbuck, at least until the last bit of the series anyway.

  • frellac

    Uh...Buffy?

  • Naye

    I'm sorry, but why is Cosima more kick-ass than Sarah on Orphan Black. Or Allison for that matter. And even though Im probably the only one watching, Allison on Teen Wolf has redeemed her bad-assery this season, by being ready to take out her own father. Also: Olivia Dunham, and Sloane from Newsroom. Happy for the Downton inclusions.

  • foolsage

    You are not the only Allison Argent fan around. She's been hit or miss at times in the past but the character has been solid this season. :)

    Sloan Sabbith definitely merits inclusion, agreed.

  • RJ

    Mary, but not Rhoda? What the what?

  • mrsdalgliesh

    I love that this list could easily be twice as long, if not longer. I'd suggest Patty Hewes (Rose Byrne, but no Glenn Close?) -- and for those of us who've seen Ripper Street, Long Susan.

  • Siege

    And to those of you who haven't seen Ripper Street -- WHY NOT!?

  • emmalita

    Because I haven't heard of it before. Where might I find it?

  • Siege

    It was on BBCA. There's only been one season, but I totally fell for it. Not sure where it might be available at the moment; I don't think it's on Netflix yet.

  • mrsdalgliesh

    It just came on Netflix, so GO WATCH.

    1. GoT people: Jerome Flynn is in it.
    2. If you like those Brit men in period dramas, Matthew McFayden is in it.
    3. If you like bad boys, Adam Rosenberg will have his way with you.
    4. Early forensics. Fun with autopsies!
    5. Great costuming and delicious period dialogue.

  • Siege

    Adam Rosenberg and his historical facial hair can have his way with me any time.

  • emmalita

    It's on my list.

  • delle

    Laura Roslin - BSG
    The reason I started watching is because the person I was dating kept raving about how fantastic her character was.

  • kucheza

    Same actress is great in Major Crimes IMHO

  • Now see, my question is...did you have this in the pipeline all along as a counterpart to the preceding 'Sassy Skirts' article (which fact would make all those angry comments even better)? Or was it inspired by said torch and pitchfork bearing hordes? Either way, if I could work out a way to make your low impact, high ROI method work with actual money, I'd make us both rich.

  • chanohack

    Lemme get this straight, SKYLER WHITE is on the bad list and RORY (FREAKING) GILMORE is on the good list?

    What. The fuck.

  • Three_nineteen

    This comment plus your avatar puts you on my skirt-flying list.

  • hmb

    No Buffy? Invalid.

  • longcoat000

    What, no Lana Kane?

  • sean

    Hell yes for Kay Howard.

  • himonoonna

    I was about to say the same thing.

  • mrsdalgliesh

    My sentiments exactly.

  • Berry

    I liked Rory initially, but then she slept with a married dude and acted like her mother was so unfair to point out that it was maybe not the best idea in the history of ideas. And THEN she stole a boat and acted like it was so unfair to receive a punishment for that. So she kind of lost me there, whereas Lorelai and Sookie will always have my heart.

    And I know this is a television list, but as long as we're talking fictional females we love, I just have to say that my love for Hermione Granger will never die, and there ain't nothing anyone can do or say to change that.

    Oh, and more to the point re: this list, I belong to the very exclusive, very small club of people who liked Pam Beesly/Halpert to the bitter end.

  • dizzylucy

    Agreed - Rory was smart, but weak of character, I think. Lorelai was definitely more kickass, IMO.

  • chanohack

    Thank you, Rory sucks. She totally became the spoiled rich brat her mother never was, living in her grandmother's freaking pool house and not speaking to her mother because Lorelai wasn't all "Team Rory" after she STOLE A BOAT.

    Also, she treated many dudes like ass, and Dean wasn't the only one she cheated with/on.

  • Berry

    I have to say though, I didn't like Dean that much either. In fact, many a rant have been given by me re: Dean and how he's really not at all as nice as he wants to think he is, but let's not go there now. Jesse sucked too, of course, but at least no-one in their right mind would call him "Such A Nice Guy, Really". And of course Logan was really the worst.

  • chanohack

    Agreed on all counts. I believe it was Logan who put the finishing touches on "Rich Spoiled Brat Rory." None of this, however, excuses her.

  • Berry

    Oh no, definitely not.

  • stella

    Umm...where is Tami Taylor?

  • baxlala

    I love that Gillian Anderson is on here twice. I haven't watched The Fall yet but have been looking up to Dana Scully since I was 13 years old.

  • Maguita NYC

    Scully always kicks ass in my book!

  • Yossarian

    Seriously, The best part about this list is how many people are missing.

    Like Deputy U.S. Marshal Rachel Brooks.
    And Mags Bennett, too

  • Mags is upcoming on another list.

  • Big kudos for Anna Bates. Anna may be my favorite character on the show. Definitely my favorite woman.

  • But if we're going to talk about omissions, how about the lovely ladies from The West Wing?

  • MissAmynae

    put me in the minority or whatever, but Thank You for including Rose Tyler. Her time with Eccleston proved her badassery. It seems like people forget those times, perhaps because the love story with Tennant was so prominent at the end of her arc. But really, would the Doctor fall in live with someone who WASNT a badass? That seems like a prerequisite...

  • baxlala

    I really liked Rose, especially with Eccleston and I didn't mind the romantic stuff with Tennant. I can even jump on board with the whole "running away to a parallel world with the Doctor's identical hand twin," because HELLO this is a show that has featured farting aliens.

  • MissAmynae

    Damn baxlala, you're gonna get me un trouble at work. The state of Texas does not appreciate spit takes on their computers! Well played, farting aliens.

  • lowercase_ryan

    So 33 women from 20 different shows. I like the list but we still need more women in more things. Solid, substantive things.

  • BWeaves

    When it comes to the Doctor's companions, you don't get more kickass than Leela.

  • Milly

    Moll Flanders > River Song.

  • Why does my girl Kima keep getting the short shrift around here?

  • Guest

    Why does my girl Kima keep getting the short-shrift around here?

  • Guest

    I don't think any of the staff for the Pajiba have actually watched the Wire (except for J.R. and I'm only assuming that because of her obsession with Wallace).

  • Berry

    Huh? It was this very site that got me interested enough in The Wire to buy in on DVD. (PS. Thanks, guys.)

  • Oops - For some reason it failed to log in - it's me above.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Another good choice, she's a very compelling character.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    I would have left out most of the Whoniverse women and put Sarah Linden from The Killing in there. She's a twitchy and neurotic little bulldog that would drive me crazy after five minutes spent in her company but she just keeps going even after getting the stuffing pounded out of her. And she's fun to watch.

  • Yossarian

    Is Lana Kane eligible?

  • Tinkerville

    Well, it would've been nice to see more variety instead of groups of five from the same shows.. I mean, Anna Bates and Clara Oswin? Where art the Leslie Knopes and Zoe Washburnes?

  • Kate at June

    Clara "I was born to save the Doctor" Oswald does not belong on any list with characters that actually have their own agency.

  • Tinkerville

    Well said.

  • I think it's pretty cool that there are several shows with more than one great female character. We've come a long way, maybe?

  • Leigh

    C.J. Cregg - The West Wing.

  • baxlala

    Yes! And Donna! MRS. LANDINGHAM (cue the sobs).

  • Three_nineteen

    Don't forget Abby.

  • Aaron

    Something that bothers me about a lot of these lists is how they completely ignore a lot of the great animated TV that exists. Where is some Lana Kane love?

  • Lovely Bones

    Thank you. Lana, Malory and Pam all deserve this same recognition. Also, all of the women from Avatar.

    I'd say also also the women of AT and Mabel from Gravity Falls, but then I'd be getting to the point where I might be dismissed as "one of those weird adults that like kids' cartoons."

  • foolsage

    Katara and Toph Beifong absolutely deserve recognition as asskicking women, agreed. So does Korra.

    I like kids' cartoons, provided they're well written. I'm unfamiliar with AT and Gravity Falls, but IMDB tells me that Jason Ritter and Kristen Schaal are in the latter, so I'll check it out.

    "Critics who treat 'adult' as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up" - C.S. Lewis

  • Lovely Bones

    I was alluding to one of the writers on here dismissing people that watch Adventure Time at some point in the past.

    Yes, I highly recommend them both. Gravity Falls, having only 20 episodes and just finished its first season, will be the easier investment.

  • foolsage

    Ahhhhhh, "AT" referred to "Adventure Time". Heh, I wasn't tracking the reference before.

  • emmalita

    I think Lana, Mallory, Pam and Cheryl deserve their own special list. Life lessons from the ladies of Archer. Get on it Overlords.

  • Without Cheryl I never would have thought to just tape up my fingers.

  • emmalita

    So much to learn from them. Including, but not limited to the erotic possibilities of the eggplant (aubergine).

  • Hater from Siloam Springs

    By a LONG SHOT, the least-compelling companion of the modern age of Doctor Who is Rose Bloody Tyler, and the most under-rated and most-missed is Donna Noble.

    And no Amelia Pond?

    This site used to be a clever place ...

  • BWeaves

    I was with you, until the Amy Pond comment.

  • Tinkerville

    "And no Amelia Pond?"

    BWAHAHAHAHA! Thanks for the laugh I needed this Monday morning. Oh... you were being serious...?

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Amy was a great character the first year or so.

  • Amelia Pond is perhaps the worst thing that ever happened to "Doctor Who".

  • Three_nineteen

    Amelia Pond (as a child) was great. I would have loved her for a companion. Amy Pond (as an adult) was...not.

  • alwaysanswerb

    [feverishly searches for any past Cindy Davis commentary re: Doctor Who because we are seemingly on the same wavelength]

  • alwaysanswerb

    Love this list, and I'm not even mad that some of my other favorites were left off. That just goes to show what a bang-up job television is doing (comparatively) in writing excellent women.

  • Bistro

    Seriously? No Buffy or Willow? I thought this was a Pajiba list I was reading...

  • *cue my hysterical laughter*

  • lowercase_ryan

    Oh yeah, you forgot the cast of Orange is the New Black.

    This list needs some Tastey, some Poussey, a lot of Red....

  • Maguita NYC

    "This list needs some Tastey, some Poussey, a lot of Red..."

    ^^ This sentence on its own... If you weren't watching OITNB yet, this sentence would change your mind!

  • lowercase_ryan

    it does sound rather...dirty? fun?

  • emmalita

    It's all in the way you say their names.

  • Maguita NYC

    And the order they came out.

  • Maguita NYC

    Both and all. Un-preverted is what is sounds!

  • ed newman

    It would be more fun to limit it to no more than one kickass female per show. You might just break an all time Pajiba comment record.

  • Hector

    Tami Taylor.

  • AngelenoEwok

    MRS COACH IS THE BEST.

  • Yossarian

    and Tyra Collette, while we're at it

  • baxlala

    I love Tyra's story so very much. But I have to stop thinking about it or I'll start crying (this applies to, well, just so much of FNL).

  • Aaron

    I'm surprised there is not more Orphan Black on this list, given how much love it usually gets on Pajiba, but kind of offset by the Doctor Who love. This list really needs some Aeryn Sun action (or any number of other great Farscape women).

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