Debate of the Day: Are There Strong Female Characters in Media?

(click because you really have to enlarge)

So normally I’m not a big fan of flowcharts, because I get frustrated trying to read them after about two minutes. No, I’m not retarded, I understand how they work, but to read some of the larger ones can take a large amount of time I don’t have. That’s why I like infographics, crisp, clean and no mazes to follow.

But I’m breaking my own rule today for this graphic from It features many female archetypes from movies and TV we know and love, but goes to show how nearly all of them are flawed, and none are strong female characters in the end. I think they’re a bit off not admitting to ONE strong female character just for example’s sake, but I guess they really believe there aren’t any out there.

I think the chart is blowing past some that truly are strong females, like Alien‘s Ripley is classified as “Final Girl,” who stays alive in the end after all her burly counterparts have died. That’s not strong? Same goes for Firefly‘s Zoe, and Terminator‘s Sarah Connor.

But it is true that females are often marginalized in the media for any number of reasons. Does this chart have a point, or are there more strong female characters out there than it’s giving credit for? If so, who are some of your best examples?

  • Rob

    Tv: Sarah Walker (Chuck) Dana Scully (x-files) and Kate Becket (Castle)

  • Ali

    This flow chart is pretty far off, I’d say.

    My favorite strong female characters:

    Samantha Jones, Sex and the City
    Miranda Hobbes, Sex and the City
    Lynette Scavo, Desperate Housewives
    Maeby Funke, Arrested Development
    Tammi Taylor, Friday Night Lights
    Lyndsay Weir, Freaks and Geeks
    Thirteen, House
    Kate Austin, Lost

  • Angel

    Personally, I think their requirements for a strong character are a bit off. There are more than a few characters on this chart that I would consider strong. Although, I did enjoy the level of crazy section.

  • Rach

    Yea, I don’t completely agree with it either. I’d say Zoe and a couple others are actually strong female characters. But I do appreciate the point of the chart, it is damn hard to find good strong female characters.

  • Doug

    The members of the Birds of Prey as written by Gail Simone, or by anyone who remembers that Black Canary can do just fine without the Green Arrow.

  • Guy Incognito

    Kate Austin is not a strong female character. The whole “I love Jack, no wait, now I love Sawyer, now Jack” thing ruins that idea. She got increasingly annoying as the show went on. That’s why she’s on that flowchart.
    Lyndsey Weir isn’t either. She’s just a girl trying to be cool and popular instead of being herself. She might as well be Sandy from Grease.

    I submit for your consideration: Lara Croft.

  • Laura

    Sydney Bristow, Alias

  • lance


  • Liz

    Is it at all possible for a strong female character to be fully clothed? Even a lot of ‘strong female characters’ are overly-sexualized to be man candy.

  • Drester

    @ Liz

    And male characters aren’t sexualized? I’ve seen tons of bare chested strong male characters.

    About the chart: How did you come to the conclusion that they think their aren’t any strong characters? They just show the weak female characters. Strong characters will end at the right.
    Which should be:

    Beatrix Kiddo – Kill Bill
    Starbuck – Battlestar
    Evey – V for Vendetta
    Jackie Brown – Jackie Brown

    And of course Xena the warrior princes:P

  • juan

    buffy, samus, where the hell are they?

  • Stephan


    Beneath “Congratulations”

  • ScubaSteve

    Katara From Avatar.

  • Skikes

    I liked this chart though I will agree they dropped the ball on a few characters. Mystique for example is classified as “underling” when in fact she has never been an underling in the comics. She often worked alone or ran her own villian team. She was also one of the first lesbians in comics.

  • Neptuny

    Veronica Mars and Buffy are classic examples of a well-written, self-sufficient, can-do-whatever-the-boys-can-do woman. And though it’s a movie/story, Mulan is a wonderful role model for young girls. Speaking as a hardcore feminist/masculist, I do think women are still marginalized a wee bit, but it’s because a lot of women viewers actually seem to be fine with it. “Oh, this single female lawyer has such a whirlwind of a love life. I shall tune in next week.”

  • crimsonsplendor

    Maybe what constitutes a ‘strong’ character should be figured out first. Or what the differences are between a strong male and strong female character. Are any of the female leads in Sex and the City ‘strong’ simply by virtue of being upwardly mobile and educated? Does their bedding whatever random dude make them ‘strong’?
    And the idea that ‘strong female characters are sexualized to be man candy’ is a ridiculous assertion. It’s entertainment, more to the point it’s entertainment produced to create revenue. If you look at any genre of film or television (maybe with the exception of comedies), comics, or any video game that aspires to realism with it’s graphics, it isn’t just the female characters that are essentially the (in some cases exaggerated) ideal of physical attractiveness. Especially in the case of heroic figures. Which goes back to the beginning of western civilization.
    Besides, weak / flawed characters are far more interesting to watch.

    regardless, my two cents:
    Susie Greene – Curb Your Enthusiam
    Kima Greggs – The Wire

  • Jackie

    Meryl Streep’s character in “The River Wild”

    …and the chart was probably made by a guy :rollseyes: