There are many great female fantasy characters, and I am sure some favorites are not on this list. I focused on leaders, on characters who demonstrated strength and authority, and on those who left a lasting impression on me. If you think I have left a character off this list, please let me know who and why a certain character should be on this list.
For this list, characters from traditional fantasy, supernatural, and paranormal works are included.
Note: Female characters from science fiction and comic books are on different lists.
10. Princess Mononoke
Princess Mononoke is what the villagers of Iron Town call San, a human girl raised by the wolf god Moro. She has an intense hatred of humans because they invade the forest. Passionate about her convictions, San fights for all that is wondrous about the forest and refuses to allow humans to ruin her world. After she meets Ashitaka, she learns that not all humans are the same. Although she comes to hate humans less, she stays true to who she is and remains in the forest.
I’m not sure if Bo (Anna Silk), the succubus from ‘Lost Girl’ has a last name, but it doesn’t matter. For years she did not know what she was, but after she discovers she is a Fae, her world changes. She refuses to pick a side between the Light and Dark Fae, becoming the first Fae to not follow tradition. Bo plays by her own rules and doesn’t apologize for doing so. She is a fighter able to wield swords, knives, crossbows, and the Siracon, a special weapon that can harm any Fae. With her best friend Kenzi, Bo is determined to uncover the secrets of her past and fight for the right of all Fae to be able to live the lives they want.
When we first meet Gabrielle, she is a farm girl. Awed by Xena, Gabrielle decides to join Xena on her journey. Over the course of six seasons of ‘Xena: Warrior Princess,’ Gabrielle (Renee O’Connor) blossomed into a warrior. Her development is as compelling as Xena’s. She could have remained the sidekick, but she wanted to be more. Besides fighting, Gabrielle would use her skills as a bard and her intellect to talk her way out of situations, proving that the sword is not always the answer. Loyal, brave, and smart, Gabrielle was Xena’s conscience, and without her, Xena’s redemption would not have been possible.
7. Daenerys Targaryen
I know many have not read George R. R. Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series, so I will avoid spoilers. When we first meet her, Daenerys is weak-willed and full of fear. After her marriage to Drogo, her confidence grows, and she earns her place as Khalessi. Stronger and feeling her power, she stands up to her brother and begins to learn how to rule. She is wise and compassionate, but she also will not tolerate betrayal. By placing herself in the fire, she emerges as the first female Dothraki leader and realizes that she, not her brother, is the dragon. (Pictured is Emilia Clarke, Daenerys from ‘Game of Thrones’.)
6. Myka Bering
Myka is a Secret Service agent assigned to Warehouse 13, which stores supernatural artifacts. Myka (Joanne Kelly) has been finding artifacts for three seasons on ‘Warehouse 13,’ and she is one of the main reasons the show is one of Syfy’s biggest hits. Thoughtful, a quick-thinker, and lover of puzzles, Myka has had a rough time opening herself emotionally. Her last boyfriend was murdered, and she trusted H.G. Wells, only to have her heart crushed when Wells betrayed her and tried to destroy the world. When Myka put H.G.’s gun to her face and told H.G. to shoot her if H.G. was really determined to end the world is the moment Myka earned her badass stripes and a place on this list.
5. The Halliwell Sisters
It is difficult to separate one Halliwell sister from the others since they are three who act as one. For eight seasons, the sisters on ‘Charmed’ fought demons while trying to balance their magical responsibilities with their personal lives. Prue (Shannen Doherty), Piper (Holly Marie Combs), and Phoebe (Alyssa Milano) bickered as they learned how to be good witches and sisters. After Prue’s death, Piper and Phoebe thought their lives as the Charmed Ones were over, but half-sister Paige (Rose McGowan) made the trio complete again. The sisters dealt with love, death, and childbirth while trying to keep their identities secret from the public. They remained true to each other, even when Phoebe became the Queen of the Underworld for a while, demonstrating that adversity tests the bonds of sisterhood, but cannot break it.
4. Lucy Pevensie
Strength should not always be measured by one’s ability to shoot a gun or wield a sword. Her brothers fight with swords, and her sister is an excellent archer, but the heart and soul of the Pevensie family is Lucy. She is not in all seven novels of ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ by C.S. Lewis, but when she is in the story her actions prove that Lucy’s strength comes from her faith. She believes in her family, she believes in her friends, and she believes in Narnia. During her reign as one of the four sovereigns during the Golden Age of Narnia, Lucy grows into a valiant and brave queen, and she proves herself in battle by helping her brother Edmund. Lucy is the reason why the Pevensie siblings discover Narnia, and she is a major factor in their success. Because Lucy’s faith never wavers, the Pevensie siblings are able to save themselves and Narnia.
The Shieldmaiden of Rohan is the niece of King Theoden. After her uncle was healed by Gandalf, she was denied that chance to fight at Helm’s Deep. Although she was discouraged by many to join the battle, she disguised herself as a man and went with the Rohirrim army to Pelennor Fields. Fearless, she stood between the Witch-King of Angmar and her uncle. The hobbit Merry distracted the Witch-King, and Eowyn took advantage of the situation and did what no man could do – she killed the Witch-King. Eowyn’s presence in the novels elevated ‘The Lord of the Rings’ from a set of books I liked to a series I adore. (Pictured is Miranda Otto from the films.)
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The woman slays vampires. Need I say more? I should because she is a great character. Buffy first appeared in the film ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ but the character didn’t become memorable until Sarah Michelle Gellar starred in the television series. Student by day, slayer by night, Buffy had to balance fighting supernatural forces with finding time to do her homework. She is tough and feisty, and she questions authority constantly. Buffy loved Angel, but she was able to kill him in order to save others. She sacrificed herself to save Dawn, preventing the gates to Hell from opening. Her life is complicated, but with the help of her friends, she was able to save Sunnydale and the rest of the world multiple times.
Xena first appeared on ‘Hercules’ and was supposed to die after her third appearance, but the studio wanted a spin-off of ‘Hercules,’ and creator Robert Tapert selected Xena (Lucy Lawless) because of the response from fans and the potential of her story. And what a story! Xena spent many years as an outlaw and a warlord. She committed several heinous acts including murder, torture, and piracy; she eventually became known as the “Destroyer of Nations.” After an encounter with Hercules, she turns away from her evil ways and sets out on a journey of redemption. With the help of Gabrielle, Xena helps others and uses her sword and fighting skills to correct many of the wrongs she committed in the past. The path to redemption is a difficult one, but Xena’s strength, courage, and willingness to change made redemption possible. The success of ‘Xena: Warrior Princess’ opened the doors for more female action heroes on TV, including some on this list.