We know them, we love them, we want to be them – some of the most kick-butt and iconic television characters in history are the women that dominate their respective shows. TV women and leading ladies give young girls (and adult women) someone to look up to and aspire to be, whether they’re vampire slayers, cops, or the kind girl next door. All little girls start wanting to be TV women from the minute they start watching television, and here are some of our top picks for amazing female characters who deserve their places as iconic role models.
1. Buffy Summers from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”
I can’t speak for all the little ’90s girls watching television, but Buffy Summers was and always will be one of my favorite TV women and iconic heroes. Buffy taught me from a young age that it’s possible to be strong and feminine (as did all the vampire slayers). Action heroes tend to be primarily male-dominated characters, but Buffy was just as tough and capable as any of the men I saw in my dad’s favorite movies – and she did it all in a skirt and heels.
Her style was iconic, her loyalty to her friends was incredible, and the depth put into her characters’ emotional struggle to fulfill her role and still be a normal girl was something I’ve always admired about the show. Buffy Summers will always have a place in my list of personal heroes.
2. Jane Villanueva from “Jane the Virgin”
If you’re looking for sweet, relatable TV women, look no further than Jane Villanueva. Jane is goodness and light, a hopeless romantic that faces unforeseeable trials and tribulations with so much grace and dignity that it seems almost impossible. She’s incredibly hard-working, reliable, and family-oriented, and her dream of being a writer is one I can personally relate with.
Jane embodies everything good that we wish we could become – kind-hearted, generous, hard-working, and loving. She’s the perfect role model to teach us that bad**s women don’t just kick butt – we can also find just as much strength and power in kindness and empathy.
3. Jessica Huang from “Fresh Off The Boat”
The matriarch of the Huang family, Jessica Huang earned her place on our list of inspiring TV women for her strength and determination, as well as her unending efforts to take care of her family and her children and give them the best life she can (we stan an iconic TV mom). Jessica is a take-charge, powerful woman who does her best to make sure the family’s restaurant and the family thrive in their new environment.
She’s not the cuddly mother that Jane is – instead, she is sharp-tongued and assertive, and makes it clear that she expects everyone around her to put in the same amount of effort she does. She’s a brilliant woman who works hard to give her family the best life possible.
4. Lily Iglehart from “Sex Education”
Lily is quirky, confident, and determined, and earned a place on our list of TV women for her unwavering ability to stay true to herself, no matter the situation. A talented writer and a fashion icon, Lily is also an LGBTQ+ role model and shows us all that no matter what anyone thinks or says about you, you can’t be anything but true to yourself.
She’s also not afraid to ask the tough questions about sex, relationships, and the human body, canceling the trope and cliche that women can’t be as interested in sex as men. We all wish we could be as confident and self-affirming as Lily.
5. Maeve Millay from “Westworld”
One of my personal favorite TV women, Maeve is one of the most intelligent, resourceful, and kick**s characters on Westworld. Maeve is one of the first characters in the show to question the reality of the world she lives in and uses her intelligence, charm, and wit to escape the nightmarish situations she experiences. She’s courageous and ruthless and will do anything to get what she wants and free herself.
She’s also incredibly strong and willing to do whatever she needs to to be reunited with her daughter. In the end, it’s her wit, determination, and resourcefulness that make her such an iconic character and role model for women everywhere.
6. Melinda May from “Agents of Shield”
The Marvel universe is full of strong movie and TV women, from powered superheroes to spies to incredibly intelligent goddesses and mothers, and Melinda May is one of the best heroes Marvel has ever created. Melinda’s character growth throughout the seven-season run of the show only further emphasizes how amazing and iconic she is. She begins the show as a tough and hardened agent, already incredibly tough and kick**s. However, as the show progresses, she begins to soften and open up to those around her, all the while continuing to be just as tough and terrifying.
7. Mindy Lahiri from “The Mindy Project”
If you thought Mindy Kaling was amazing as Kelly in “The Office,” then you should meet Mindy Lahiri, one of our favorite TV women and leading ladies. Mindy Lahiri is the main character in the comedy series “The Mindy Project,” which concentrates on her efforts to balance her professional and personal life. Mindy is intelligent, bubbly, and warm, with a bluntly honest personality and a big heart.
Mindy is a complex character with complex relationships, and her struggles to balance love and work are incredibly relatable for anyone who’s tried to date as an adult. She’s a role model we can all relate to, and her funny, lively personality had us hooked on the show from the first episode.
8. Miriam Maisel from “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Another of the funniest TV women you’ll ever find, Miriam Maisel has the whole package: she’s beautiful, she’s funny, and she’s incredibly intelligent. But she’s also messy and her life is full of complicated problems she struggles to find solutions for, and it’s her strengths as well as her flaws that make her such an important role model for young women.
Miriam is also incredibly strong – no matter how many times life knocks her on her butt, she’s always willing to get back up and try again, which is an incredibly vital message for all of us to learn as we enter the trials and difficulties of adulthood.
9. Robyn “Rob” Brooks from “High Fidelity”
Rob Brooks is the tough but sensitive protagonist of the television version of “High Fidelity,” and one of the most relatable TV women not only for her iconic style and fantastic music taste but also for all the reasons she is deeply flawed. Rob struggles to let go of the past – made most evident by her personal obsession with all her worst breakups – and she tends to be incredibly self-absorbed, ignoring her friends’ needs at times and unintentionally hurting those closest to her throughout the show.
However, she is also willing to change, and capable of self-reflection and awareness. She reminds us that we can’t be perfect people all the time, but if we are willing to reflect and work on our problems, we can always be better.
10. Rosa Diaz from “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”
Ever since I started watching “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” Rosa Diaz has become one of my favorite TV women and personal heroes. Not only is she a kick**s, take-no-prisoners cop, she’s also a bi-icon and a perfect representation of what it means to be strong and sexy. Rosa is commonly seen as scary and intimidating, but she’s also known for being incredibly intelligent, resourceful, and a loyal friend. She’s not the most trusting person at first, but once you’ve made it past her walls and earned her respect, she’s more than willing to put her life in your hands.
Rosa is an LGBTQ+, Latina icon and deserves to be considered a prime role model for women everywhere.
11. Sophia Burset from “Orange Is the New Black”
The beautiful, talented, and intelligent Sophia Burset has earned her place on our list of incredible TV women for her kind heart and her grace and dignity in the face of hate, discrimination, and adversity. Sophia is an absolute icon for the transgender community, and Laverne Cox became the first transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy award for her portrayal of Sophia.
Sophia is incredibly resourceful and intelligent and does her best to live true to herself and become the person she was always supposed to be. It is her strength and self-affirming confidence that makes her such an iconic character and an incredible role model.