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“100 Best Female Characters” List Is Actually “Pretty Much Every Female Character Ever” List

Here’s a fun game for those at home: See how long you can click through, before you get too depressed to continue. Teenager, go-go dancer, hooker, teenager, “MILF”… yep, that’s enough for me! Who’s Number One? Ellen Ripley? Seems reasonable. And that’s when I clicked “close gender.”


  1. Robin wrote:

    Oof, scooped by Tiger Beatdown! I’m working on coding this list to see how many characters are the protagonists, how many are villainous, how many are hyper-sexualized, if there is any shred of diverse representation of women, etc. It is, yes, depressing.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Permalink
  2. Eileen wrote:

    Gertie? Mrs. Danvers? And… I’m done. I got through 12.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Permalink
  3. K__ wrote:

    I made it through the first 16 before I got bored and started skipping around.

    Then I stopped when I eventually skipped to the dog from Lady and the Tramp.

    If we’re going to include animated females, it had to be Lady? Lady? Of all the female animated characters, it was a dog?
    Anybody else find animated characters included in this list who are, you know… human?

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Permalink
  4. Zircon wrote:

    K: I saw Jessica Rabbit and Chihiro from Spirited Away. Also, Dory from Finding Nemo. Like Lady, they wouldn’t make my list of top animated female characters. (I didn’t get all the way through the list either, but I started at the other end.)

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Permalink
  5. AliasMitch wrote:

    Forget cartoon characters, if an Alien was to look at this list they would think Pam Grier was the only black female human. Deplorable.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Permalink
  6. msmelis wrote:

    I made it to #86. I couldn’t get past a “female” psycho Venus Fly-trap character apparently voiced by all men.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Permalink
  7. Petra wrote:

    I am annoyed. 100 characters and they picked Summer Finn from 500 Days of Summer but no Buffy and no Lola from Run Lola Run? Seriously?

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Permalink
  8. Alicia wrote:

    Number 15 was Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors. Not Audrey the woman. Audrey the plant, who is voiced by men (“to distinguish her oddness” quoth the list. Keen.) Soooo…you can be an awesome lady, but only if you’re played by a dude? Is this the logic?

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Permalink
  9. Nora wrote:

    Sins against feminism aside, these click-through lists are a sin against web design and web writing. I’m pretty sure there’s a verse in Neilsen 10:14 about how thou shalt not make clickthrough slideshows or thou shall be killed with blink tags.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Permalink
  10. CelloShots wrote:

    I swallowed my vomit and clicked through the whole list. Four characters of color. One is a cartoon. Two are Pam Grier. The fourth is a child. So not just all black women, but in fact all adult women of color are Pam Grier. Fantastic!

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Permalink
  11. Chantelle wrote:

    What I hate is that the fact they are women is constantly highlighted. If this was a list about men it would be “he was a great doctor”, “a fearless warrior” etc etc. Things that have nothing to do with their genitals basically (at least some of them). For the a womyn’s list, their sexuality and gender identity feature prominently, with a glorification of T&A pics to complement the list. Pisses me off. Of course, in many mainstream movies, womyn are there to be “eye-candy” regardless of the role…

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 4:56 am | Permalink
  12. Laura wrote:

    Also, they add Marge Gunderson from Fargo in there and what is the description?
    “Jovial (and heavily pregnant) police chief of Brainerd – not Fargo – whose maternity leave gets put on hold when a faked kidnapping spirals into murder.”


    Kill me now.

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink
  13. Renée wrote:

    I think this says it all: “for the sake of this article, it’s all about the catsuit”.

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 9:53 am | Permalink
  14. samanthab wrote:

    Clearly there’s a feminist fail here, but it’s also just so BORING for the lady audience. I’m SO bored with pretending to care about these kind of lady prototypes. I want to run around and do stuff, and frankly, there’s a limit to how much I’m endeared by tossed crumbs like Ripley and Ms. Thelma. I would like to have a lady just *do* stuff without the plot being structured around the notion that- congratufuckinglations!!, a lady can do stuff. And I wouldn’t mind if these roles weren’t a reinterpretation of a stock male hero and were, y’know, their own damn entities, their own damn tropes. I want to be Cleo in Cleo from 5 to 7 and run around and *think.* I don’t need to blow anything up; I don’t need to drive off a damn cliff. I don’t want to be a dude-atron, but thanks much for your paternalistic generosity, Ridley Scott!

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 11:06 am | Permalink
  15. InfamousQBert wrote:

    dude. AUDREY 2?! seriously? a fucking PLANT?!

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Permalink
  16. robot bob dole v2.0 wrote:

    2011. Over one hundred years of film and this is the summation of woman’s worth. I don’t know what’s worse – how badly this list fails or how little it could have done better.

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink
  17. Gretchen wrote:

    This really reads like a list of female characters who are liked by men, in films which are written by men, and directed by men.

    I skipped a lot, but I didn’t see one film by a woman in the top 20.

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink
  18. Robin wrote:

    As advertised, here’s the breakdown. Probably the most depressing stat is that there are almost as many non-human, non-humanoid characters (3) as there are characters of color (4). One surprising depressing stat is that only 79 of the characters have full names.

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink
  19. AVS wrote:

    Had me at Baby, with the whole this is how girls learn to be women. Right.

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Permalink
  20. Couldn’t make it any farther than “Jewish princess”.

    Yeah. That’s just not okay.

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Permalink
  21. Hell Cat wrote:

    You know, I didn’t *hate* the list. I mean, they had some great choices (Veronica Sawyer, anyone?) as well some crappy ones. But I was surprised the missed Milla’s character Leeloo in The Fifth Element. I seriously loved that role to pieces because there was this completely blank slate that managed to figure out how to kick butt via the Internet. I don’t know, I just felt like the list was….without something. Cohesion, maybe.

    Like Catwoman. Michelle put so much more nuance into her character that the looks fell far to the bottom of why her character worked so well. It didn’t touch on the vulnerable sexuality, the stretching personalities too thin and not knowing which one you really are.

    It seemed very T&A versus why the characters really worked.

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Permalink
  22. canomia wrote:

    Haha, there’s more Swedish women on the list than black women. And they didn’t even include Ingrid Bergman or Greta Garbo.

    Why not make a new better list?
    A few they missed that would be on my list:
    Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard
    Noi from Ruang rak noi nid mahasan
    Christiane F. from Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo
    Elin from Fucking Åmål
    Petra Von Kant from Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant
    Sally Bowels from Cabaret
    Jeanne d’Arc from La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc
    Charlotte Andergast from Höstsonaten
    Lena Nyman from Jag är nyfiken – gul

    Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Permalink
  23. AK wrote:

    “Fucking Åmål” was called “Show me love” in English.

    (Åmål is a really small Swedish town and the film is about two girls who both defy gender norms, one being a lesbian and Elin being a “slut”, and then they find each other and oh my god this is THE teenage film for my generation, everyone go find a subtitled copy right now!)

    Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Permalink
  24. Hobbes wrote:

    How about Starbuck from the BSG reboot? I mean, it’s not a film, it’s a series/miniseries, but I thought she was an awesome example of a female character who was doing shit without the plot being about how she was a female character who could actually do shit.

    Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Permalink
  25. Miranda wrote:

    Um, I agree the list is really fail and no, I don’t think Vivian’s any kind of a role model as a character, but describing her simply as/calling her a “hooker”? Isn’t that disrespectful towards sex workers?

    Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Permalink
  26. Odonata wrote:

    Of course they’ve got “Breaking the Waves” on there. Of course they do.

    Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Permalink
  27. Sharon Stoned wrote:

    And as an aside? Why the fuck can’t T&A go together with a great character? Seriously.

    And has any commenter considered the fact that the list is probably predominantly white (admittedly ridiculously so) because Hollywood has scripted better roles for white women? Rather than that the creators of the list skewed white? Just a thought…

    P.S.- Fuckin’ Summer Fynn? WHACK.

    Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Permalink
  28. Maria wrote:

    NO BUFFY?????

    Friday, March 18, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Permalink
  29. Nona wrote:

    “And the inspiration for a subgenre of porn remains a satisfyingly flirty, filthy archetype.”


    Friday, March 18, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Permalink
  30. LilithXIV wrote:

    “And as an aside? Why the fuck can’t T&A go together with a great character? Seriously.”

    For that first to happen it’d be nice if women didn’t constantly get defined by the TnA and largely nothing else. Cariacatures are not characters.

    Saturday, March 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Permalink
  31. Hell Cat wrote:

    Sharon Stoned,

    Because when all they focus on is the T&A, then they’re doing a disservice to the female characters. Like not focusing on the fact hot women can also kick some serious butt when they want because their looks are only a fraction of their personality, not the defining element.

    Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 1:08 am | Permalink
  32. Emmitt wrote:

    Yeah this list just points to a bigger problem (at least to me) which is where are all the women directors? There are some great characters on the list (Ripley being number one is such a cliche, as great as the character and Weaver are though) but the majority of characters are out of films directed by men. It reminds me of something an acquaintance once said about how there are more films that exclude women while decrying sexism than there are films that actually include well-written female characters.

    Also, I love the inclusion of Breaking the Waves in a subversive kind of way.

    Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Permalink
  33. Other Becky wrote:

    How about Celie Johnson from The Color Purple? Any one of the women from Fried Green Tomatoes? Any of several Katherine Hepburn characters? Any of the sisters in Crimes of the Heart? Rose Castorini from Moonstruck? Miss Jane Pittman? And, if you’ve got to have Julia Roberts in there, how about as Erin Brokovich or Shelby Eatenton (Steel Magnolias) or Daisy Arujo (Mystic Pizza), instead of what’s-her-name in Pretty Woman, who barely has a personality?

    Totally concur that this is not a “best female characters” list, but a “female characters that dudes enjoy” list.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 1:31 am | Permalink
  34. ninjapenguin wrote:

    The commentary for Princess Leia said that her “fire” was probably because she had to wear her hair in buns and *tape down her breasts*? And that she was “rewarded” by getting to let her hair down and wear a metal bikini? For Pete’s sake!

    Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 10:34 am | Permalink
  35. goldengirl wrote:

    I lol’ed when I saw that most of the top 20, ahem, ‘greatest female characters’ were from sci-fi and horror. I mean, of course they were.

    Also, some of the “female characters” were real people (Bonnie Parker, anyone?) Not to mention the way that for each of the animated characters, the writer went out of his way to say that the voice acting was ok and all, but the real artists were the male designers. Ok, then.


    Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 4:33 am | Permalink