TV's 15 Most Empowered Female Characters (and Their 10 Hapless Counterparts)

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As Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin once sang, “Sisters are doin’ it for themselves.” And that sentiment seems especially applicable to the dozens of strong female characters populating our television screens nowadays.

To celebrate Women’s History Month, TVLine has compiled a list of the 15 Most Empowered Female Characters on Television, ladies who are firmly in control of their personal and professional destinies — often in the face of daunting obstacles. On the flip side, we’ve identified 10 of their Least Empowered counterparts, women who allow the men in their lives and society as a whole to define their goals and values, and too often wind up playing the role of victim.

Click through our gallery below and tell us which of our picks are spot-on, where we got it wrong, and which powerhouse gals got snubbed.



Comments (311)

  • You left out Ziva David from NCIS!!!! Just saying. :-)

    Comment by Marla (@zoyaroses) – March 20, 2013 12:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Along the lines of forgetting an empowered woman from a procedural, OLIVIA BENSON from SVU. How could you forget her???

      Comment by Jay – March 20, 2013 02:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Nicely chosen with the two GoT ladies.

    Comment by D'Arcy – March 20, 2013 12:51 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Um, no. Sansa didn’t take Littlefinger’s offer because she didn’t know if she could trust him. Sansa’s a captive in a world of schemers and she’s surviving. She’s learning how to play the game. No, she’s not empowered like Dany or even Arya but she’s not completely helpless either.

      Comment by Olive – March 21, 2013 12:01 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Exactly. Let’s be real. If Sansa and Arya’s positions were reversed BOTH girls would be dead by now. They are both strong, just in different ways. Each girl’s strength is suited to the situation they find themselves in. And seriously, who trusts Littlefinger?! No one. ;)

        Comment by Michelle – March 21, 2013 06:06 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • THIS. The poor girl is just trying to stay alive.

        Comment by NCSouthernBelle – March 25, 2013 01:15 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Exactly.
        I don’t peronally like Sansa very much, but she is a 13/14 year old girl, surrounded by manipulators, schemers, liars and so on, and she can’t trust anyone, I would say she is trying her best, she is learning rather quickly, and not taking Littlefinger’s offer was definitely not because of cowardice or fear, but her decision, that she cannot trust him.

        Comment by Jules – April 15, 2013 12:51 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I love Britta but there is nothing empowered by her. She often uses men (usually the worst kind of men) as a crutch or to distract her from her problems and her schtick is that she has no clue how disastrous her life really is. She’s hilarious but not at all empowered.

    Comment by dude – March 20, 2013 12:51 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • So very true. Britta is a wonderfully funny and flawed character, but I wouldn’t put her above Shirley or even Annie (who’s really making strides towards coming into her own).

      Comment by Kate – March 20, 2013 03:48 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Was surprised by that as well. They really britta’d that pick.

      Comment by Ali – March 20, 2013 07:19 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • why didn’t you just add every singel woman that is on tv?

    Comment by kresh – March 20, 2013 12:53 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Where are the ladies of daytime? There are plenty that could be added to either list.

    Comment by George – March 20, 2013 12:53 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Where is Kate Beckett?! She is definitely an empowered lady!

    Comment by Jennifer – March 20, 2013 12:55 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • By far the most horrible omission from this list! She was literally the first character I thought of. For shame, TV Line!

      Comment by megshells – March 20, 2013 01:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • How does Kate Beckett get left off this list? Incomprehensible.

        Comment by scays – May 20, 2013 06:14 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • This!

      Comment by Alichat – March 20, 2013 01:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Agreed!!!

      Comment by Becca – March 20, 2013 01:43 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Yes! I thought she’d be #1 on the Most Empowered list.

      Comment by Linda F – March 20, 2013 01:44 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Agree! She was my first pick:)

      Comment by Mary – March 20, 2013 01:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Expected Beckett for sure on this list. What gives????

      Comment by Barb – March 20, 2013 02:48 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Kate Beckett for sure. As where do you get that Regina Mills is empowered?! Everything she’s done her whole life has been under the impetus of Rumple or Cora. She didn’t even get to say yes to her own marriage! How is that empowerment? Put Cora on there instead. She managed to go from miller’s daughter to queen of hearts and she was willing to rip out her own heart (and anyone else’s) to get what she wanted. That’s empowerment.

      Comment by Loki – March 20, 2013 06:38 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • SAME! My first pick was Beckett. Homegirl can kick some ass and take names. She is, by far, the best detective in the precinct. She attended Stanford and was pre-law before she dedicated her life to help others like herself who have lost someone. Hands down an empowered female.

      Comment by Rachel – March 21, 2013 08:00 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Exactly….where is Kate Beckett

      Comment by 90vinitablog – March 26, 2013 07:36 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • not on air anymore, but you can’t forget Buffy.

    Comment by Silvia – March 20, 2013 12:55 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • And this! And if we’re doing characters not on the air anymore, toss in Veronica Mars and Sydney Bristow.

      Comment by Alichat – March 20, 2013 01:10 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • And Zoe Washburne, Olivia Dunham, Willow Rosenberg……the list goes on and on!

        Comment by Alichat – March 20, 2013 01:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • The Charmed Ones! Faye Chamberlain!

          Comment by iMember – March 20, 2013 02:44 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • If we’re going for shows that aren’t on anymore, the vast majority of the Whedon-verse girls qualify.

          Comment by K – March 21, 2013 02:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Great list TVLINE. I agree on all points. :)

    Comment by Lena – March 20, 2013 12:56 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • How can Peggy Olson be missing from this list? Also, I would’ve put Shirley instead of Britta.

    Comment by Dani – March 20, 2013 12:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Shirley fits the bill the most but she did take back her husband after he cheated on her. Really, none of their women are very empowered.

      Comment by dude – March 20, 2013 01:31 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Taking back your husband after he cheated on you doesn’t make you unempowered. She took him back because she loved him, because he proved himself to her. She took him back on her own terms, not because she felt she had no other options. That is empowerment. Shirley made her own decision on whether her husband was good enough for her.

        Comment by Veronica – March 20, 2013 02:32 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • I don’t know, I’ve always sort of felt like she took him back because she was pregnant. I know she was at least considering a full reconciliation before then, but that was her justification when the group wanted to know why. If that’s the case, it’s pretty much the opposite of empowered. (Not that she doesn’t have her own strengths; she’s a great character, but not right for this article).

          Comment by Amy – March 20, 2013 05:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Seconded on the Peggy Olson comment. But I don’t know, I don’t really think Shirley is more empowered than Britta. It’s just..they are strong characters, differently?

      Comment by rain – March 21, 2013 12:39 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I don’t understand how you think shaming female characters because they don’t correspond to your idea of a “strong” woman is in any way a celebration for or of women. In fact, it just shows how there are very defined roles for women in this society and that if you don’t fit those roles, then you’re not a “worthy” woman. Which is really nothing new in regards to the treatment of women across history. Shame on you, TVLine.

    Comment by Alice – March 20, 2013 01:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Absolutely agree.

      Comment by emma – March 20, 2013 02:05 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Preach!

      Comment by Erica – March 20, 2013 02:30 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I completely agree!

      Comment by shelby – March 20, 2013 03:12 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Agreed, this is a disgusting post TVLine.

      Comment by Amanda – March 20, 2013 04:48 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Preach, girl. Sansa has her own way of navigating society, there’s nothing WEAK about her. This entire post and list is full of disgusting, misogynistic attitudes that try to narrowly define how women should be if they want to be considered “strong.” Women choose for themselves how they want to be, and non-violent means are not “weaker” or “hapless” in comparison to violent, physical ones.

      Comment by Tiffany – March 20, 2013 05:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I was just going to say this! Sansa is learning how to play the freaking Game people. I wouldn’t be surprised if she is the last Stark standing in the end.

        Comment by anon – March 20, 2013 11:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • I agree completely.

          Comment by Gretchen – November 27, 2013 05:00 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Perfectly put thank you.

      Sansa is such a great character and in no way is she helpless. If Arya was in Sansa’s position she would have died in ep 1 of season 2. Arya can’t play the game. She would have said some snarky thing and would have had her head chopped off. In reality Sansa is much smarter. They play different games of survival and Sansa’s doing a damn good job.

      Comment by Ceecile – March 20, 2013 05:44 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I agree Sansa is doing her best and learning to play the game but the reason she is in the spot she is, instead of back home is she cried to the queen after her daddy told her she had to go home, giving the queen time to act. lets also not forget her not standing up for her sister when Joffery lied to the king, leading to ladies death.That really made me dislike her. I feel she has been nieve from the start and slow to pick up on the true intentions of those around her. In the books she also talks about suicide multiple times.

        Comment by JC – August 5, 2013 11:30 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Suicide is not “weak.” Suicide is an act of desperation. Sansa is a 14 year old girl in a terrible situation. Her entire family is dead for all she knows, and everyone surrounding her either hates her or is using her in some way. Don”t you dare tell me she is weak.

          Comment by Gretchen – November 27, 2013 04:59 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • ^ THIS.

      Also re: Sansa…c’mon, seriously TVLine? Shaming her – a shockingly effective character given her situation – by asking where her one-of-the-dudes sister is instead? I thought this was about female empowerment? :-\

      Comment by Shannon – March 20, 2013 07:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • THANK YOU!!!!

      Comment by asherlev1 – March 20, 2013 08:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I understand what they were trying to do though they could have left out the least empowered–maybe they hoped it would notify the writers (Karen Cartwright!).

      However, some of their ideas of empowered are questionable. When does selfishly dis-empowering others mean you are empowered?– this is abusive– Evil Queen?!?!

      There is a line between empowered and oppressive… not the same thing.

      Comment by Lu – March 20, 2013 08:29 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Completely agree. This list is misguided at best and downright offensive at worst. I’m most horrified that they included two REAL WOMEN (Catherine and Omarosa) in the “least empowered” category and not fictional characters. No matter how falsely people on reality shows can portray themselves, it’s a low blow and completely misogynistic.

      Comment by Lyria – March 20, 2013 10:51 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • So agreed!

      Comment by Olive – March 21, 2013 12:05 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I absolutely agree.

      Comment by Caorthine – March 21, 2013 06:44 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • totally agree. this is some serious crap, and in no way reflects the concept of ‘empowered’. it’s just a random list of characters you like or don’t like.

      Comment by js – March 26, 2013 01:32 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Sing it sister.

        Comment by Anne – November 27, 2013 05:01 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I call BS on Sansa. She’s a prisoner in King’s Landing, but she’s playing the “game” as well as the rest of them. In the words of Tyrion Lannister, “she may survive [them] yet.”

    Comment by a – March 20, 2013 01:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Right? She’s much more empowered within what little agency she is allowed than many other characters.

      Comment by xaverie – March 20, 2013 01:02 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • She’s wiley, but she’s not *empowered*. Not yet.

      Comment by Leigh – March 20, 2013 01:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Yeah, I agree. Sansa does a lot with what little agency she has, like saving Ser Dontos and keeping the women calm during the Battle of Blackwater. Just because she’s a victim of abuse and captive who doesn’t defy normative feminism doesn’t make her “scaredy cat,” and to say so is kind of victim-shamey. I’m disappointed, TVline.

      Comment by emily – March 20, 2013 01:20 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Yeah, ‘scaredy cat’ is absolute bs. Sansa refuses Littlefinger’s offer because she’s learned not to trust people (and, let’s be real, LF might be the /least/ trustworthy GOT character). She’s suspicious and jaded, not scared.

        Comment by emma – March 20, 2013 02:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Exactly. Sansa is doing the best she can and she’s playing the game in her own way.

      Comment by nich – March 20, 2013 01:33 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • empower (ɪmˈpaʊə)— vb
      1. to give or delegate power or authority to; authorize

      Sansa is not empowered. I don’t think TVLine is judging whether or not that is her fault. The truth is, she has no power or authority.

      Comment by the girl – March 20, 2013 01:38 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Then using empowerment as our baseline of strong versus weak is the problem. Sansa isn’t weak. Vulnerable, yes. Weak, no. The entire concept of empowered versus not is incredibly sexist and that’s what we’re calling out here.

        Comment by emily – March 20, 2013 01:44 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Additionally, a woman doesn’t have to be empowered to be a “strong female character.”

        Comment by emily – March 20, 2013 01:45 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • The Sansa hate is making me fume, like, are these people even watching the same show?

      Comment by Jean-François Martel – March 20, 2013 02:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I don’t believe for one second that Sansa is weak. The “why” has already been explained by a lot of other people, so I just have to say that leaving her off both lists entirely would’ve been OK, but putting her on the “least empowered” one is shameful.

      Comment by Emily – March 20, 2013 02:23 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • It’s not that I’m angry about people calling sansa “not empowered” because clearly she is at the mercy of the lannisters, in terror of being raped or tortured every day, and if we go with the basic definition of “empowered,” it’s true she’s not. But criticizing her for not taking peter baelish up on his offer? Have you not seen the guy? Like every time he’s interacted with her he’s telling her how much she reminds him of her mother, and not in an endearing way either. I doubt Arya would go with him either! Sansa is a young girl trying to stay true to herself and stay alive in a world that could chop her off at any moment. She does not deserve to be labled “Hapless Counterparts.” In fact, quite frankly, no one should be in that category. This is in celebration of women’s history month, and we’re shaming women? And worse than that, victim shaming? fail to see the logic here.

      Comment by Maria – March 20, 2013 04:42 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I call BS on Sansa right with you.

      Comment by Olive – March 21, 2013 12:08 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Not really fair using a 14 year old girl being used, abused and held hostage as an example of ‘unempowered’ as if it’s her own fault for it. Arya would be in the same position if she hadn’t been given the opportunity to escape.

    Comment by xaverie – March 20, 2013 01:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • And that’s only if you consider ‘aged up’ Sansa, who is actually supposed to be 11 and living in constant fear of rape and torture.

      Comment by xaverie – March 20, 2013 01:03 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Completely agreed.

      Comment by Will – March 20, 2013 01:10 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Let’s be honest if Arya was in Sansa’s position she’d be dead already, she would have the composure. They are both playing different games but it doesn’t make Sansa’s any less real because she doesn’t wield a sword. Words are Sansa’s weapons.

      Comment by Emily Grimm – March 20, 2013 01:54 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • *she wouldn’t have the composure

        Comment by Emily Grimm – March 20, 2013 01:56 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Oh yeah I meant to mention this too… Dany would also be dead. They don’t have the political brain that Sansa does. Sansa is in the hands of people who are hunting down her sister, aiming to kill her brother, have already tried to kill her other brother, and have decapitated her father in front of her. Everybody acts like they would just charge out the gates waving a sword and run for it, but I call BS – the smart person (*ahem* Sansa) would lie in wait for their chance to escape and manipulate what they can from within the belly of the beast.

        Comment by pterabite – March 20, 2013 02:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Re Haley Dunphy — I don’t think she was actually dating the denim guy. I got the impression it was entirely a charade.

    Comment by Dave – March 20, 2013 01:02 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • She’s still not very empowered.

      Comment by dude – March 20, 2013 01:32 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Seriously? you missed Stana Katic as Kate Beckett in Castle. Seriously?!

    Comment by Dana Mulholland – March 20, 2013 01:02 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Seconding Alice’s comment. Well said.

    Comment by Violet – March 20, 2013 01:04 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • You have left out Kate Beckett – a noticeable absence!

    Comment by Pete – March 20, 2013 01:05 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Thanks so much for not mentioning Olivia Dunham. I hate her. And before people tell me I’m sexist cause I happen to hate a “females” guts, I love Buffy, the charmed women, xena, salt from the movie salt, etc.

    You can make an empowered woman without making everyone else look stupid and can’t possibly do things by and FOR themselves. Peter Bishop is an example of this.

    Comment by Min jinx – March 20, 2013 01:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Btw, thank you sooo much for mentioning women who don’t need violence to save the day. It’s annoying how a strong woman is defined by, some people anyway, how many men she can beat up or how many superpowers she has.

      Some women use intelliegence to save the day, as well.

      Comment by Min jinx – March 20, 2013 01:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Thank you for mentioning that. I’m a woman and I absolutely hate that. Add Nikita to the list of using her fake physical strength as a ‘strong woman.”

        Comment by lll – March 20, 2013 02:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • There is a lot about Nikita (the show) that I like, particularly, since I hadn’t–in the past– seen many Asian women headlining a show. There is lot of things to mentioned, with Amanda as the current female antagonist, and Alex as Nikita’s apprentice. I def watch more for Nikita and Alex though, but yes, that problematic aspect is def there.

          Comment by risandre – March 20, 2013 03:05 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Oh, it’s you again.

      Comment by quang – March 20, 2013 01:29 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Free country pal and mind your business.

        Comment by Min jinx – March 20, 2013 01:54 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • No Gemma Teller? She was a mess last season, but she is pure, hardcore empowered matriarch in her own little world. Other than that, I agree with most of this list.

    Comment by G – March 20, 2013 01:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • And no Cersei Lannister or Diane Lockhart?? I take it back. Not such a solid list, lol. I know people usually hate Cersei and Gemma, but they struggle with internalized misogyny. Society is just as much to blame as them for their attitudes, but they also strive in a male-dominant culture so they should be in this list.

      Comment by G – March 20, 2013 01:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • here here. and tara knowles

      Comment by dado darc – March 20, 2013 05:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • No No No…while I love her as a character Ava Crowder should not be on this list. How can you call her empowered when she keeps other women in prostitution? Sure she’s made a few leaps forward in her own personal growth, but I cannot get behind you calling her empowered.

    Comment by Celeste – March 20, 2013 01:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Completely agree. She’s engaged to her brother-in-law, the one who’d threatened her in season 1, then apologized for watching his brother beat the crap outta her, not to mention the fact that she was fully prepared to kill one of the girls who worked for her to save her own skin. I don’t hate Ava, but I would never add her to the list of empowered women either. Bottomline, she took the easy way out and whatever inroads she’s made comes from Boyd, her power is dependent on his good graces.

      Comment by ENAD – March 20, 2013 01:28 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Agree with most everything. Spot on with Karen on Smash. Get a backbone already Cartwright! But disagree about Sansa, she doesn’t have much choice in the matter right now (Joffrey isn’t just an abusive boyfriend, he’s an abusive fiance king who is warring with her brother!), and she still manages to get in her snarky comments. She’s getting smarter. She’s a survivor!

    Comment by Ruchi – March 20, 2013 01:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Of course Naya Rivera as Santana is the best of glee and I love her character

    Comment by kate – March 20, 2013 01:12 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • This. Gorgeous, sexy, smart, hilarious, incredibly talented…what more would you want?

      Comment by Trouty Mouth – April 23, 2013 12:33 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Ok, I know the character only lasts for one season, but what about Lana from American horror Story Asylum?? She’s the ultimate!

    Comment by Michele – March 20, 2013 01:16 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Alicia from The Good Wife, sure. But what about Kalinda? Talk about kick-ass! And Diane is no slouch either. The only female on that show that is not empowered is Peter’s Mom and she’s more the victim of her generation and mental disintegration than anything else.

    Comment by Dina Ewing – March 20, 2013 01:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • where’s Emma Swan?!?!

    Comment by Mary Kate – March 20, 2013 01:24 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • THIS. While you’re at it add Mary Margaret and every other female on OUAT (even dead Cora). This is how you write women. Pay attention execs!

      Comment by lll – March 20, 2013 02:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Almost everything about Emma’s whole life is based on men choosing for her.

      Comment by sara – March 20, 2013 04:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • ^^THIS! Literally, of what we know of Emma, aside from her decision to stay in Storybrooke (which was largely influenced by Regina, who is on this list, and that`s perfect) all of her past choices have either been made BY men in her life or FOR men in her life.

        I do agree that Snow or Cora (or hell, even Kathryn despite only lasting one season) could fit in nicely with this list.

        Comment by S. – March 20, 2013 06:32 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Where is Selina Meyer from Veep? She may be thwarted by Washington inner-politics frequently, but damn if she isn’t as manipulative and conniving as the best of them!

    Comment by David – March 20, 2013 01:26 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Arya Stark

    Comment by hello – March 20, 2013 01:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • There are so many things wrong with your list, and your decision for writing. In the first case, you pitted these two groups of women. Like, it was so original, making a list of “badass” women and then making fun of how the “least empowered” women , which can be laid somehow to narrative frame, and writers first then singling out these ladies.

    Plus, you seem to have a problem with blaming women for not getting out of abusive situations in their narratives, and additionally blaming Omarosa for perpetuating “angry black woman” stereotypes. What the hell made you think this was a good idea in the first place? I’ve character discussions with far more nuance than this.

    Comment by LWC – March 20, 2013 01:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Thank you for including Nikita! She is truly a warrior for justice, and the fact that her team has expanded into such a large circle shows how many people look up to her and are willing to follow her lead. She not only kicks ass physically (although that’s awesome), but exudes such courage, heart, kindness and compassion in her journey to help others and take down the evils of the world. On top of all that, she’s a believably flawed, three-dimensional character which Maggie Q portrays incredibly well.
    By the way, I’d include Elena Gilbert from The Vampire Diaries in the Least Empowered category. She is downright unwatchable. Maybe if her life was about something about than which pretty boy she likes better this week, she’d be more interesting.

    Comment by Alex Forrest (@AlexForrest5) – March 20, 2013 01:32 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Sadly all the girls from TVD should be included…Everything in their lives revolve around men.

      Comment by Josh – March 20, 2013 03:23 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Thank you for Nikita she is truly empowered!!! she does not sleep and she kicks ass. Those are important qualities to be considered empowered :))

      Comment by JC – March 21, 2013 10:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • You’ve missed the most qualified for this list, (nearly lost her life, lost her job, and nearly lost her love interest, life saved, got her job back, and her man, scarred her nemesis for life, then turns around and saves his life because that’s her job) notably, Kate Beckett!! If anybody’s “in control of their personal and professional destinies” I’d say it’s Becket. Head’s up your butt here TVLine with that omission.

    Comment by Joyce Lang (@JoyceLang1) – March 20, 2013 01:32 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Thank you for informing us a young woman in the clutches of her abusers who continues to survive, stay strong and stay gentle is not an empowering female character on TV.

    Comment by Eafiu – March 20, 2013 01:32 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • She doesn’t have dragons or a sword, so clearly Sansa has to be hapless and weak. She’s an abuse victims, and that’s what those are, right? (Extreme sarcasm.) Also side-eying TVLine for apparently having to pit Sansa and Arya against each other. This whole concept is pretty sexist. We need to tear some female characters down to build others up? We don’t see media doing this with male characters. We really couldn’t have just gotten an article on notable female characters in television?

      Comment by emily – March 20, 2013 01:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Like seriously, even the actresses playing them don’t pit them against each other.

        Comment by risandre – March 20, 2013 01:38 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Because Sophie and Maisie clearly understand the characters, whereas whoever wrote this article doesn’t… sigh.

          Comment by emily – March 20, 2013 01:43 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • Pretty sure it was not just one person writing this article, I’m guessing several TV Line writers supplied their own submissions.

            Comment by Eli – March 21, 2013 02:57 AM PDT  
          • Idiot TVLine writers.

            *eye roll*

            Comment by Anne – November 27, 2013 05:11 AM PDT  
  • Hell yes Nikita and Santana!

    Comment by dude – March 20, 2013 01:34 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The biggest problem with this list is that you limited it to only fifteen women. That being said, a larger list should include the following: Mary Crawley, Tara Knowles, Deb Morgan, Margaret Schroeder, and Joan Holloway.

    Comment by Morgan – March 20, 2013 01:34 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Wow, what an absolute joke of an “article.” You want to talk about empowering women and you compile a list of “badass” women and compare them to “the weaklings.”

    Sansa is dealing with things as best as she can, by doing things secretly and playing the game. Besides that, she’s been scarred by seeing her father beheaded in front of her and she’s been betrayed by Cersei and her people, people she thought she could trust (because remember that she’s only 13 at this time and been led to believe that they’re good, honest people). Do you expect her to take up Littlefinger’s offer, an offer that seems too good to be true from someone from Cersei and Joffrey’s cabinet? As much as I truly love Arya, she could have never made it as far as Sansa has in that setting, to be quite honest. You believe she could come in and cut everyone down and “take care of business”? She’s only 10 years old, do you honestly think she could barge in and take down adult men from the Kingsguard? Reread the books and think about them with real world logic. Just because magic and dragons exist doesn’t mean all other logic goes out the window, for God’s sake.

    Comment by Rachel Petrillo (@kings_fan) – March 20, 2013 01:35 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • “Wow, what an absolute joke of an “article.” You want to talk about empowering women and you compile a list of “badass” women and compare them to “the weaklings.”” Totally agree! As a woman, this is border-line offensive.

      Comment by ej – March 20, 2013 03:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • what would you want Sansa to do? Grab a handy sword and cut her way out of King’s Landing? Tell Cersei and/or Joffrey to eff-off? And you apparently haven’t read the books if you think Baelish is a good option……

    Also, RE: Arya, you DO realize that a child being forced to murder in order to stay alive is not “bad ass” at all, right? Or is that what makes a woman empowered, in your eyes? Being turned into a killer before they even get out of puberty?

    Comment by SSM – March 20, 2013 01:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • seriously – i’m very offended that you consider Sansa unempowered because she doesn’t physically fight and use weapons like her sister. empowerment is not same thing as being aggressive, and women don’t become empowered by acting ‘like men’.

      Comment by js – March 26, 2013 01:37 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Exactly! Being a killer does not make you “empowered,” it only makes you cold and full of guilt. To be a strong woman you must believe in yourself and deal with your life to the best of your ability. That’s all.

      Comment by Anne – November 27, 2013 05:04 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Felicity Smoak from Arrow

    Comment by steph – March 20, 2013 01:37 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • OH MY GOD YES!!! She is the only female I like on Arrow.

      Comment by lll – March 20, 2013 02:16 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Yes, yes, yes!!!
      She is amazing, and becoming stronger every week. Love her!

      Comment by Jules – April 15, 2013 12:57 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • well, sansa hardly has the opportunity to be empowered, does she? she is living, quite literally, in the lion’s den. she is doing what she has to do to stay alive. and yet she had the bravery to make some pretty snarky remarks ( “maybe he’ll bring me yours” ) against the most powerful men in the country. you go, girl.

    Comment by cat – March 20, 2013 01:38 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Yes, sexism and victim blaming all wrapped into one delightful article. It’s laughable. When are people going to understand being a strong female character doesn’t equal acquiring masculine traits? Apparently never.

    Comment by Mary. – March 20, 2013 01:39 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • “When are people going to understand being a strong female character doesn’t equal acquiring masculine traits?”

      THIS. A THOUSAND TIMES, THIS.

      Also, loving all the Sansa defense in the comments here.

      Comment by Heather – March 20, 2013 02:31 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • wow what an incredibly offensive list. congrats.

    Comment by ann – March 20, 2013 01:41 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Meredith Grey and Charlotte King

    Comment by Victoria – March 20, 2013 01:42 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Meredith? How many times did she try to kill herself or just give up? Luckily, she had big, strong, rich, handsome Derick to save her every time…. Not empowered.

      Comment by Dina Ewing – March 20, 2013 03:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Addison Montgomery or Callie Torres would probably be better fits than Meredith…

      Comment by Kay – March 20, 2013 06:34 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • this is so mind numbingly stupid and sexist i’m going to throw up

    Comment by Eva – March 20, 2013 01:42 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This list proves that you don’t understand what empowerment really means.

    Comment by Katie – March 20, 2013 01:45 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I cannot believe Sansa Stark is on the list for least empowered. First off, don’t even get me started on the ridiculousness of this entire list. The idea that women are only good if they have “bad-ass” qualities is absurd and never something I would have expected from tvline. That being said, Sansa is one of the best characters in A Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. She has such an incredible character growth arc that is way more than what appears. Maybe take a moment to look at the depth of her character. Also, remember her character is a young girl, not an adult. She’s also a victim, and not by her choice. Don’t shame the victim, that’s entirely ludicrous. I’d say she’s playing the game [of thrones] much better than any other character, especially the men in the show. Shame on you tvline.

    Comment by alyssa897 – March 20, 2013 01:47 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This might be the grossest thing I’ve ever seen. I’m really ashamed of you, TVLine.

    Comment by Hope – March 20, 2013 01:48 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • how could you leave out jenna from awkward??? she is one of the most original, honest characters on tv…. sure she took hr time bouncing between matty and jake but she knows what she wants and is loyal to her friends in the end. she portrays a mature high schooler while mostly everyone else around including the adults are not…

    Comment by Corey Ackerman – March 20, 2013 01:49 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Why has no one mentioned Andrea (Walking Dead) as one of the least empowered women on television? She’s had so many opportunities to escape Woodbury and end the mess she’s stuck in by killing the Governor…then she just goes and has sex with him. And where has this gotten her? Tied to a torture chair hoping Rick swoops in and saves the day!

    Comment by Matt Alex – March 20, 2013 01:49 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Wow, way to go TVline! A little girl who’s been abused doesn’t take a sword and skewer her abusers! How weak and unempowered she must be! Nevermind the fact that she has survived in King’s Landing the way her sister Arya would never be able to. Sansa’s courtesy is her honor and with a sane king, her pleas would have saved her father’s life. Sansa’s power lies in her ability to understand her role in the game. U G H. Good to know that your idea of “empowerment” only lies in a woman’s ability to act in a traditionally masculine way. Good. Job.

    Comment by Erika – March 20, 2013 01:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Oh, wow. Thanks for informing us that a teenage abuse victim is unworthy of being a woman and is a “scaredy cat”. Let’s forget that at any point in time she could have her throat cut by virtually anyone. Let’s forget that whole part where she calmed her fellow women in the face of imminent doom. Or that time she attempted to intervene on her father’s behalf while still a child. Or that time she saved a man’s life by manipulating a tyrant.

    Pitting your definition of “empowered” women against “least empowered” women is not only disgusting, but incredibly misogynistic. The entire list is a sham and reminds me that we’re still a LONG way away from equal rights for all genders.

    Comment by Caroline – March 20, 2013 01:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • And people still ask why we need Feminism.

      Thank you!

      Comment by Anne – November 27, 2013 05:08 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • this list has pros but your description for Sansa Stark is horrible do i really need to say why?I had you for a good media site tv line you failed me big time . And not to mention the ladies who are missing from this list.

    Comment by shawhs – March 20, 2013 01:51 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • About Sansa: I don’t think being a 13 year old who has had your father beheaded infront of you by your crazy king fiancé, who by the way is at war with you older brother, who also verbally and physically abuses you and molests you does not make you weak. Saying that is just victim-shaming BS. Being able to muster up the fortitude to still undermine Joffrey by playing the ‘game’ is strong because courtesy is a lady’s armour.
    Calling a female character weak because they don’t fit into your category of ”badass empowered female character” does not make them weak. No, you just clearly haven’t done your research, and frankly this whole sorry excuse of a list is sexist.

    Comment by HP – March 20, 2013 01:51 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I love (and by love I mean despise) when people think a good way to celebrate women’s history is by upholding a strict definition for how a woman should be as opposed to celebrating their multifacetedness and differing strengths. Yes indeed, a good way to celebrate women is by pitting them against each other in terms of “least empowered” and “most empowered” and by further disseminating these ridiculous notions that strength can only be measured by physicality and levels of independence.This article presents a most rudimentary view of feminism and what it means to be a strong female character. Apparently, if you can wield a sword and display qualities traditionally prescribe to masculine roles, you’re a strong female character. But if your strength is expressed via your knowledge, your will to survive, your bravery, your cleverness, then you’re not worthy of admiring.

    In regards to Daenerys and Sansa specifically, if one were actually paying any attention to their narratives, Dany starts out as a hostage, much like Sansa. The huge difference between them, is that Dany was able to gain power very quickly, whereas Sansa hasn’t the means to do that. She has to work with what she has so far and whatever she’s doing is keeping her alive. So when you call her weak and least empowered you’re blaming a very young girl for being trapped in a situation where she has no choice but to act like a loyal subject while keeping her true feelings to herself. How is that not strength? It just so happens that her strengths are different than Dany’s and Arya’s and are suited to being surrounded by powerful game players in a complex political system.

    It’s nice to know that survivors–who might have spent years being abused before finally having the means to leave their abusers–aren’t strong. It’s nice to know that women who are confined by the rules of their societies as defined by men–those women who try to work within those confines–aren’t strong.

    Comment by fatpinkcast – March 20, 2013 01:51 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Amen. I totally agree.

      Comment by Min jinx – March 20, 2013 01:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Totally agree. Sansa doesn’t have a ~masculine~ strength like Arya or Daenerys, it’s disturbing that traditional femininity and strength of the mind, resilience, is so frowned upon. She’s a survivor of constant physical, emotional and sexual abuse, and a 13 year old girl at that. She’s survived through words in a world as hard as Westeros, still maintaining her hopes. If that isn’t strength, I don’t know what is. TV Line, I suggest you edit the list or issue an apology for victim-blaming.

      Comment by Hannah (@BurklePryce) – March 20, 2013 03:55 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • THANK YOU, to you and the post you’re replying to. This article is pretty gross. The idea that Sansa is “weak” because she fits a more stereotypically feminine role is unbelievably sexist, not to mention the disturbing amount of victim-blaming this article implies. I am deeply unimpressed.

        Comment by Catherine – March 20, 2013 04:48 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Very well-said. I agree 100%.

      Comment by Olive – March 21, 2013 12:18 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

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