Women in SciFi/Fantasy/Horror


This something that should interest Audra, Starbuccaner, Casilda and others. How are women handled in Science Fiction media and literature, and how has it changed over time, and which writers and directors handle them the best.

Examples of strong female characters:

Ripley- Alien Franchise
Leeloo- Fifth Element
Princess Leia and Queen Amidala
Sarah Conner
Dana Scully
Mononoke Hime San - Princess Mononoke
Revvy- Black Lagoon
Nausicaa of the valley of the wind or nearly any Ghibli Studio’s main character :slight_smile:
Lois Lane
Aunty Entity – Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome
Janeway, Dax
Zoe- Firefly
Piper- Drive Angry
Lisbeth Salander- The Girl with the dragon tattoo (OK not scifi but I love her)
Honor Harrington- David Weber
Friday- Heinlein

Urban Horror is rife with strong Women-
Mercy Thompson
Jane Yellowrock
Rose Drayton
Kate Daniels
Sookie Stackhouse
Maxine Kiss

Anyways I shall stop there, this is just a taste there are far more no doubt and I need to get to work so I am short on time. And everyone has their own favorites so please post them here and discuss, it is nice to see how the roles of women have changed over time from ‘damsel in distress’ to competent fleshed out characters who either contribute to the story or help drive it themselves.


Buffy (and band camp girl)


Olivia Dunham
Anna (V)
Starbuck/Kara Thrace
Sam Carter
Susan Ivonova
Sarah (Chuck)
Laura Roslin
Turanga Leela
Echo (Dollhouse)


I think that’s a very good point. Because the issue of ‘damsel in distress’ isn’t just that women are portrayed as not being strong and are merely there to be saved by some burly guy, but also that some women characters, even strong ones with fleshed out personality, have a tendency to serve a story mostly as the love interest of a male character (or in some respects, service storylines that are only about marriage/children. It’s a little bit akin to having gay characters on the show whose SLs are only about them being gay rather than them having a real SL that isn’t about that).

Like, in some respects, I think Queen Amidala, as far as the movie goes, has a bit of that going on for her in the 3 prequels. She’s a strong female character, no doubt, and she has an important job which she’s good at, but none of that I feel is too relevant to the main storyline- the most important aspect of her is being the love interest of Anakin (and the mother of his children), and I feel like she’s not in the same category as say Nausicaa or Buffy (obviously there’s a love story there, but that is clearly not her only role in the main SL).


Yes I was a bit reluctant to list Amidala but I thought she was strong in the first two films, unfortunantly Lucas yanked the rug out from under her in the third. And she became a weaker character all of a sudden, reduced to nothing more than a plot device and then died of a broken heartsigh

Which by the way conflicts with Return of the Jedi and the conversation that Luke has with Leia about her Mother, Leia states that all she can remember about her Mother was her sad eyes. WTF? She died in mere moments right after you were born, how can you remember anything about her?


Omra, GREAT thread. Thanks for posting.

Each of the characters I pulled from all your posts had really deep impacts on me during my most impressionable years. I would add to it Dr. Crusher, the girl protagonist of the children’s book East of the Sun, West of the Moon (by Mercer Mayer) (HUGE influence on me starting at age 3), and Penny from Inspector Gadget. There are others. I’ll think of them when it’s not so late.

Have you heard of the Bechdel Test? It’s pretty much what you’re describing here. It is HORRIFYInG how few movies or TV shows feature female characters who talk to each other about anything other than men. Even most movies/shows with strong female characters don’t feature the central woman having significant conversations about anything other than men with other female characters. Trinity doesn’t get much chance to interact with other women. Other than Newt, Ripley doesn’t, either. One of the reasons I love Firefly is that all the women are fully fleshed out and have interests other than their romantic and sex lives that they discuss together.


As long as we have ivoniva you have my full support.

Great idea for an arc


How about the Bionic woman? :slight_smile:

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Aeryn Sun had some really great character development
Gabrielle ^^ same story
Sam Carter
Selene (Underworld)
Helen Magnus (Sanctuary)


What about Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games franchise? I’d add her to the list!

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I can’t believe Sam Carter hadn’t been on the list already! She and Katniss definitely belong.


I can’t believe I didn’t notice Sam wasn’t on the list! I must have been having another “senior moment”. :slight_smile:


If we’re covering Aeryn then we have to include Claudia’s other storng female character (who’s introduction was covered on our recently released gate cast episode, Promethues Unbound) Vala Mal Doran, a brilliant character who totally wrongfoots daniel Jackson and leaves his headf spinning, yes she has sexuality but she gleefully uses it as a weapon and as a way to lead the men around by their noses (or, perhaps, to use a futurama ref, their lower horns).
on the “Got some rather nerve wracking news and advice today, the hamster is running in the wheel” ID


This would be a nice addition to the women in sci-fi panels we’ve had at the last couple International Meetups. I’ve meant to work on a blog post or something like that expanding on some discussion points related to female superheroes, but I haven’t gotten around to it.


Once done, I’ll be eager to read it!