2017 has seen a wave of change for female characters on TV and in movies. They’ve been put at the forefront of stories, written like never before (unashamed in their love, brutally honest, and sometimes even a hot damn mess), and shown to be sound investments for the future of the media we consume.
This list of female character who kicked ass in 2017 is about more than actually kicking ass and showing the world how it’s done. These women have kicked ass by becoming strong leaders in the face of tyranny, great friends in the fact of uncertainty, and defenders of their city and home no matter the odds.
Let’s jump in to our list of 27 female characters who kicked ass and were kick-ass in 2017!
Diana of Themyscira, Wonder Woman
Diana proved that a warrior could destroy their enemies and save the day while still letting love and hope guide them. She was more than just a warrior to her people, Steve, and the viewer. Diana was a dreamer, a lover, a curious person by heart, and someone who could mess up and still find a way to keep going. She inspired thousands of little girls (and boys) to follow their hearts and explore the unknown no matter how hard or scary things may be.
Rey, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Rey is the heroine of modern days, our living proof that sci-fi, that space adventures, hell, even the force, are not mythical things that belong to men, no. The force – Star Wars – is for all of us, and she can master it just as well, if not better, than the men around her. But that’s not all Rey proves, she also proves that you can be a hero because you choose to be, your past doesn’t define you. You define yourself.
Felicity Smoak, Arrow
Felicity Smoak has been proving for years that you don’t need to wear a mask or be physically superior to kick-ass. Felicity’s superpower is her intelligence, and she uses it as a weapon against those unsuspecting foes or those that choose to underestimate her. Her courage and compassion are what define her as a human being and a hero. But that doesn’t mean Felicity can’t kick a little ass when the occasion calls for it. Felicity Smoak has been kicking ass since, well, forever.
Rose Tico, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Talk about stealing our hearts! Rose managed to do that in her first few minutes on screen, and then she just kept getting better and better! Because we’re all Rose, in a way, someone who wants to do the right thing, even if she’s not expected to be in the front lines, and someone who, when needed, can be as much of a hero as the people she looks up to.
Eleven aka Jane Hopper, Stranger Things
Eleven used her pain to conquer her demons and come out on top despite being used since birth for other people’s nefarious purposes. And even though she was scared from the very first moment that she opened the door into the Upside Down, she was somehow able to trust and find a family in Will, Hopper, and the rest of the gang. Eleven/Jane is still learning, but the fact that she’s willing to try gives her a better chance at succeeding.
Lorraine Broughton, Atomic Blonde
I’m always a sucker for a movie that treats its female protagonist just like they would a male protagonist. Lorraine had the same stylings as John Wick and had this fantastic ability to adjust to her situation and use the things around her to kick-ass and take names, even if it meant tying a hose around some guy’s neck and jumping out a window. And despite all that kicking ass that she was doing, Lorraine was still a human with vulnerabilities and the ability to care for those around her.
Michonne, The Walking Dead
Sure Michonne kicked ass and got her ass kicked in return (cuz she isn’t perfect and that’s a positive) but that’s not what makes her a kick-ass woman for me. What distinguishes Michonne from other women on the show and on TV is her capability of opening up her heart to another family and allowing herself to love, trust, and hope again with all her heart. That is kick-ass and takes more strength than any swing or punch she could deliver. And it’s a strength we should all want inside of ourselves.
Wynonna Earp, Wynonna Earp
Wynonna Earp proved that you could be a badass mama who cares for family, while still being hilarious, and saving the day from crazy sister witches who wants to revive their dead husband. True story. It was awe inspiring watching this show not sideline it’s lead because of her pregnancy. If anything it made her an even bigger badass and made us respect what she was going through and what pregnant women have to go through on a daily basis.
Valkyrie, Thor: Ragnarok
Valkyrie was a hot mess who didn’t stop drinking or wanting to have a good time even after she joined the Revengers. Thor: Ragnarok didn’t sugar coat her or try to show a perfect woman who just so happens to be a part of an ancient group of fighters. She was in pain and it showed. And we can’t forget how amazing she looked with the fireworks behind her and her sword in hand. *dreamy sigh* That’s a picture that’s not going to go away anytime soon.
Carol Peletier, The Walking Dead
The Carol of 2017 is more self-assured and in many ways finally starting to live a life of her own choosing. She has decided that she’s going to help Ezekiel. She has decided that she’s going to protect and fight because it’s the right thing to do against the likes of Negan. Carol is done stagnating or jumping from one extreme to another to stay alive. She understands what she must do to save those around her but also not lose herself at the same time.
Jules Thomas, Sweet/Vicious
This intelligent, sweet, and awkward goober of a woman was sick and tired of watching women around her suffer and decided to do something about it herself. She worked through her pain and gained a partner, a new family, and gave other women the justice that they deserved for what had been done to them. Jules is what heroes look like.
Friendship, drinking, and lots of kicking ass helped ground Dutch as the life she had always known was exposed as a lie. She didn’t let the possibility of being as dangerous as her original stop her from doing what was right, taking care of her town, and protecting her friends. And honestly, if you ever need a ride or die, pick Dutch. She’ll fight tooth and nail for you because she loves deeper than anyone I’ve ever known.
Eretria, The Shannara Chronicles
Eretria is kick-ass because she fought, braved, and struggled through the truth of her heritage while helping her friends save The Four Lands. She also loved deeply, which takes a special kind of courage. The Shannara Chronicles spent their second season having the bad guys spouting the same old stuff about how love makes you weak. Love made Eretria strong. Love gave Eretria the hope that she needed that everything would be okay and that she would make it out alive.
Lorna Dane, The Gifted
Lorna Dane, aka Polaris, is a mutant, yes, but the best thing about is her that she’s relatable. Sure, she has powers we could never dream of, but she has issues, and fears and she makes mistakes, just as we do. But she’s fiercely loyal, she loves without holding back, and despite a complicated family history, she’s always willing and ready to help others. And that’s what makes her a hero.
Mareth, The Shannara Chronicles
Mareth took her eagerness to learn about her past and her powers and actually did something about it. She went out there and found who she needed to get answers from before tumbling into an adventure where she risked her life to save The Four Lands. And even though she was scared, because you could tell their were moments where she was frightened, she kept trying to face the demons in her life. Like…actual demons.
Detective Rosa Diaz, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Rosa spoke her truth and liberated herself from the pain of hiding who she truly was. It took courage and an innate sense that she was safe with these people to actually come out. I’ve known Rosa was tough since she punched her way through a glass door in a sick induced craze. This step forward has made her even more kick-ass and I can’t wait to see what comes next or how her revelation with change the lives of those (maybe even you) that have connected with her.
Kara Danvers, Supergirl
2017 has really tested Kara Danvers. She had a drag down fight with her cousin where she proved her might, fell in love and then lost that love, and got taken down by Reign in manner we’re still cringing about. And even though things don’t seem good for Kara right now, she survived the pain that came before her and she’ll survive the pain ahead. Why? Because she’s an alien raised by humans who loved her, showed her compassion, and gave her a new family.
Sansa Stark, Game of Thrones
It’s not easy being a woman in Westeros, and it’s especially not easy to be a woman, a leader and still conform to societal expectations, and yet Sansa Stark shows us that you don’t need a sword in your hand to be a badass, you just need to take the reins of your own future. Strength comes in many ways, and as much as we should celebrate the Arya’s and Brienne’s of the world, we should celebrate the Sansa’s, and the lessons they teach us.
Agent May, Agents of Shield
Agent May fought and defeated what was thought to be the unbeatable and helped destroy Ada. She gave the new and scary a chance even though she was made to believe that Inhumans were the bad guys while in the framework. And even now, trapped in some future version of Earth, she’s continued to be a badass who will use the pipe that was just in her leg to fight someone with. If that’s not a kick-ass woman, then I don’t know what is.
Lucy Preston, Timeless
Lucy was thrown into an impossible and volatile situation that required her expertise, and despite going through things that would make any sane person question her place in the world, Lucy never let what happened make her any less …her. Lucy Preston is who she is, not who the world dictates she becomes. It’s her choice. And she’s chosen to be a fighter, a scholar, a friend. Because that’s what she wants.
Laura didn’t let her size stop her from completely demolishing the people that were after her. She fought tooth-and-claw for a future for herself and the other young mutants she had come to know. And even though she was rough around the edges and shied away from others, she gave Logan a chance to prove himself. Because of that, we saw her transform into something more than a weapon or a frightened young woman on the run. She was a survivor with the power to change the world if she decided to because of the fire and love that she held inside.
Hannah Wells, Designated Survivor
Hannah Wells is not a woman to be trifled with. She can kick your ass with her hands tied behind her back, and she can probably outthink you as well. In a world that still, constantly, tries to make women into one thing or the other, that fails, at times, to present them as complete characters, Hannah Wells is proof that we don’t have to strive to be less than we can be. We can do it all.
Iris West, The Flash
Iris West is a superhero in her own right, and she continues to prove that heroes come from all walks of life. When you’re surrounded by heroes with superpowers or code names, it’d be easy to underestimate the power of Iris West. But Iris’ compassion, intuition, and intelligence are what define her as a hero. She’s beyond courageous in the face of insurmountable odds. Don’t you dare try to call her “not a hero.” She’s a walking hero, day in and day out.
Hela, Thor: Ragnarok
Even though Hela is the “enemy” of Thor: Ragnarok she’s still a kick-ass woman that you secretly hope wins. (I said what I said. Don’t deny the fact that her fighting against being erased and treated like she was out of control for having aspirations bigger than Odin, left you feeling a little miffed at the one-eyed God who decided to bounce instead of helping when needed.) Hela demanded respect and was willing to fight for it, even if she had to face her own family for it.
Lena Luthor, Supergirl
Lena took control of her life and her reputation like never before in 2017. She bought Catco despite not knowing how to run a company like this because she understood the importance of keeping the media out of wrong hands and it was important to Kara. She also confronted the people (looking at you Morgan Edge) who were trying to smear her name and goodwill. Lena is a kind hearted person and there’s nothing anyone can do to change our minds about that.
Sara Lance, Legends of Tomorrow
Ever since becoming captain of the Waverider, Sara Lance has really stepped it up as a leader, friend, and family member of this ragtag group. In this new position she manages to be a straightforward leader who isn’t afraid to kick ass and who understands her team’s abilities to save the day instead of using her position to go solo. And despite all of the changes that have happened since she stepped on the Waverider, Sara Lance has remained a lady killer that knows what she wants and goes for it.
Claire Randall, Outlander
For a heroine in a romantic tale, Claire Randall is an aberration. She spent 20 years separated from the love of her life, thinking him dead, and yet Claire went on living, not just existing. She became a doctor. She raised her daughter. She because she had to, because a love like the one she shared with Jamie meant that she couldn’t just give up on life. And, when Claire found out that her love was still alive, well, Claire did not hesitate. But then again, that’s Claire. She never does, not when it matters.
What did you think of our list of kick-ass women? Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the comments section below!