Friday, March 26, 2010

Six Famous Female Action Heroines of Television

Not all action heroines are trapped on celluloid or in the pages of a comic. Here are six action heroines who have graced our small screens.

Scully - The X-Files

Scully was constantly saving the day for all mankind. She and Mulder took turns playing the hero. During the show's nine year run, Scully punched Nazis (my favorite episode Triangle), fought off a serial killer (episode Orison), and even squared off against a Tomb Raider-like villainess that bested all of the Lone Gunmen and Mulder combined (episode First Person Shooter: picture featured above).

These are just a few of her exploits outside of her every day duties investigating and arresting criminals, handling firearms, performing autopsies, and saving Mulder whenever he fell too far down the rabbit hole chasing one of his many conspiracies.

Buffy - Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy had a hard life. During her most formative years, she was busy making sacrifice after sacrifice to protect innocent lives, and quite frankly, the job was pretty thankless.

Buffy was constantly staking vampires, chasing monsters, solving mysteries and protecting the very gate of Hell. This on top of needing to keep up with homework, protect her Mom and sister, and maintain some kind of normal social life.

While it's true that Buffy had some supernatural aid via her physical strength, it's also true she had to train often and train hard to take advantage of it.

Fiona - Burn Notice

Fiona is in a very pure state of action heroinedom. (It's my blog, I can make up words when I want.) She's a wild card.

She's interesting for many reasons, one being she doesn't view personal gain as a negative. Which is kind of a nice break from the, "I'll sacrifice myself for everyone else," model, which is quickly morphing into a stereotype for strong women.

Fiona is a fun character, who always seems to enjoy her exploits, especially the dangerous ones.

Allison - Medium

I know what you're thinking, Allison isn't a traditional action heroine. But I'd like to make the argument that we expand our canon to include her. It's typical for most action heroines of film and television to be young and single. (One exception would be the Geena Davis flick, The Long Kiss Goodnight, which suggests in its plot that our leading lady ended up coupled with a child.) Allison, however, is married with three children, entirely by choice.

She's a realistic woman, she could be your next door neighbor. But she's tough. She chases and faces down criminals, both dead and alive, and has risked life and limb on more than one occasion to do the right thing. She may not have the fighting skills of a mutant, but she's got extreme power of will and is physically capable and emotionally willing defend herself, her family, and anonymous citizens when necessary.

I think she makes an intriguing role model for the real modern woman, an attainable goal. Not of psychic powers, but of grit, determination, and behaving like an action heroine in the absence of superpowers or intricate training. Who is more brave? The action heroine born and bred to defend, or the one who does so anyway despite the lack of standard accouterments.

Aeryn Sun - Farscape 

If you've never seen the show before, you should check it out. It was highly underrated. The character of Aeryn initially appears as an almost mindless universal solider type. Over the course of the show, she has to shed some brainwashing in order to claim an individual identity.

This is an arc that could be considered highly allegorical in modern society, with the messages coming fast and hard at young women through all manner of ubiquitous advertising.

Like all of the characters on this list, Aeryn has leadership qualities, though she may need to cultivate some patience. Aeryn is never shy about her opinions and never leverages herself for any reason. You could say these qualities are true of all of the women on this list. But Aeryn probably displays them without any hesitation whatseover for procedure due to the conditions of the show.

Tasha Yar - Star Trek: The Next Generation

See how Tasha is standing in front of Worf, the big bad Klingon? Yeah, that's how she stood in front of everyone as head of security for an entire galaxy class starship. (Hang on, I have to push my glasses up my nose and adjust my pocket protector now.)

Tasha didn't discriminate. She used her tactical and defensive skills on anyone, anywhere, anytime that she felt she needed to. She's a professional in the field of action and she was always exciting to watch, even though she was only on for one season.

When the show first aired, I was very young, and I had never seen a character like her before. She was definitely breakthrough in regards to portrayal of female action heroines on television.

Of course, there are so many others. This is by no means a definitive list. My picks are from the shows that I like to watch, but I know there are so many more that I don't have time for or just never caught onto growing up. I've heard good things about Alias, The Sarah Conner Chronicles, Battlestar Galactica, all of the Stargate series, and many more. Who are your favorite action heroines of television?


  1. Claudia Black <3 She's the most beautiful woman in the world. Awesome voice actress too.

  2. Yeah, I really miss her presence on television. I didn't know she was into voice acting though, but that makes perfect sense. Thanks for telling me that, I can't wait to look her up on IMDB and see what she's done!

  3. Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) on Chuck! Kicks MAJOR butt- in how many other shows is the main occupation of the female lead to go around saving the male lead?