I love sci-fi and I love badass women, so I spend nights laying in bed thinking about my favorite TV characters. That’s not weird. Coming up with a list of the MOST badass female characters from sci-fi shows is difficult because in order to do them justice, this list would have to be way too long. And so, here are 16 of the most — not the only — ass-kicking women ever on sci-fi or fantasy TV.
1) Dana Scully – The X-Files
Dana Scully is incredibly intelligent and capable. She’s skeptical, level-headed, and fights some of the craziest unexplained phenomena. She was abducted by aliens AND has alien DNA. She’s also played by Gillian Anderson, who is a total badass in her own right.
2) Starbuck – Battlestar Galactica
Starbuck was originally played by a guy in the ’70s series, but for the 2004 Battlestar Galactica reboot, Katee Sackhoff took the role and made Starbuck one of the most iconic sci-fi characters of all time. She’s an incredible pilot and can drink any other soldier under the table. She smokes, gambles, fights, falls in love, makes sacrifices for others — really, she’s the epitome of tough.
3) Commander Lexa – The 100
Lexa commands a coalition of thousands of warriors and her fighting skills are unmatched. She once defeated a huge, powerful guy in one-on-one combat and then threw a spear through the heart of her enemy in a scene more impressive than anything on Game of Thrones. Her most incredible skill, though, might be her ability to control her people with her confidence and leadership. Lexa is also super gay, but the show never makes it a big deal — it’s just part of the amazing person she is. She’s definitely the most badass out lesbian character of all time. I am dying to see a prequel all about her ascension to the throne and her relationship with her slain ex-lover, Costia.
4) River Tam – Firefly
As a result of being subjected to invasive experiments, River is mentally unstable and volatile. She’s a genius with unparalleled fighting abilities, able to take on and defeat dozens of foes all at once. She has telepathic abilities and claims to be able to kill with her brain — which, seeing all that she’s capable of, is probably true.
5) Buffy – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
She’s a f*cking vampire slayer — what’s more badass than that? Joss Whedon wanted to make a character in response to the pretty blonde girls who are always killed off in horror movies. On Buffy, the pretty blonde girl would be the one doing the killing.
6, 7, 8, 9, and 10) Danaerys Targaryen and Arya Stark and Cersei Lannister and Brienne of Tarth and Ygritte – Game of Thrones
I know that’s a lot of different people, but I don’t want this to turn into an article just about Game of Thrones characters. I’m putting them all together even though they’re so different because they are badass in the same way – if you cross them, they are absolutely merciless. They all have people and ideals they care about and will stop at nothing to protect them.
11) Wonder Woman – Wonder Woman
Lynda Carter is strong, righteous, and powerful — she IS Wonder Woman. Men could never handle fighting crime in an outfit like that. She’s also beautiful, sweet, and kind, while still able to kick total ass. She’s like the ideal mom everyone wishes they had.
12) Catwoman – Batman
Catwoman, played by Eartha Kitt and Julie Newmar in the Adam West-starring Batman, is smart, conniving, and of course sexy. The show also never felt the need to mention or explain changing actresses who don’t look anything like each other, which is pretty great.
13) Xena – Xena: Warrior Princess
Xena’s a warrior princess. What else do I even need to say? She has amazing fighting skills, she’s buff as f*ck, and she uses her power for good. She’s great at hand-to-hand combat, using pressure points, and disabling multiple foes with her chakram. She’s also totally in love with her life partner Gabrielle, and a new reboot is coming where Xena and Gabrielle’s relationship will be open instead of relying on subtext.
14) Syndey Bristow – Alias
Sydney Bristow can speak every language, beat up every person, rock every disguise, and remember any impossibly long alphanumeric code. For a while I thought I wanted to be in the CIA but then I realized I just wanted to be Sydney Bristow.
15) Michonne – The Walking Dead
When we first meet Michonne, she was covered in walker blood, leading two of them on ropes and brandishing a terrifying sword. She’s fearless and extremely capable. In a zombie apocalypse, she is definitely the one I would want watching my back.
16) The Bionic Woman – The Bionic Woman
If you don’t know who the Bionic Woman is, ask your mom or your grandma. During the women’s movement, the Bionic Woman was an icon for girls who didn’t want to be perfect little ladies. The character is a tennis pro almost killed in a skydiving accident who’s life is saved by bionic implants that make her a super-person. She wore pants, ran fast, jumped off of high walls, beat up bad guys, and never made a casserole.
Who are your favorite badass female characters from sci-fi and fantasy series? Tweet at me and let me know! @erikaheidewald