We all have a favorite heroine or two that we look up to. Whether it is a childhood favorite like Hermione Granger, or a recent addition to the category of strong women like Katniss Everdeen, strong female characters are all around us. If watching too much TV has taught us anything, it’s that there is still a disparity between the amount of male lead characters and female lead characters we see gracing our TV screens. Not to mention the lack of in-depth, powerful female leads that aren’t stereotypical. I’ve put together a list of leading ladies who are not only revolutionary, groundbreaking, and three-dimensional, but who have also taught us important life lessons along the way.
These amazing and empowering women have taught us…
1. Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation
…how to stick to your beliefs, even if no one is on your side. Leslie often faces a lot of opposition from male councilmen or misogynistic television reporters when trying to gather support for a parks project. She never lets it deter her from finding a way to make it happen, though. She faces discrimination and is judged twice as hard because she is a woman, but manages to keep her dignity and grace throughout everything.
2. Rory Gilmore, Gilmore Girls
…that it’s okay to care about school and show it. Rory doesn’t apologize for being smart and never tries to hide it. She believes she can be a successful journalist, even though it is a male-dominated field. And even though she hits a few speed bumps on her way there, she never stops working hard to get what she wants.
3. Phoebe Buffay, F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
…how to march to the beat of your own drum. Phoebe never cares what anyone else thinks about her, and she never apologizes for being herself. Yes, she is a little weird (okay very, very weird), but she gives a voice to everyone who doesn’t fit in or thinks they don’t belong.
4. Arya Stark, Game of Thrones
…that no matter your age, you can make a difference. She teaches us that we all matter in one way or another. Her determination to make a difference despite her age and size should be an inspiration to all of us whenever we feel like we don’t matter.
5. Abby Sciuto, NCIS
…not to judge a book by its cover. It’s cliché, but it’s one of the most important lessons to learn. Abby is a paradox: she has an obsessive interest with death and dresses in head-to-toe black everyday, yet she’s one of the most enthusiastic, warm-hearted characters on TV. She’s a daily reminder to get to know someone before passing judgment.
6. Amy Farrah Fowler, The Big Bang Theory
…how to love someone knowing they may never love you back. Amy loves Sheldon in the purest form: She loves him with the intention of just loving him, which is one of the most selfless acts in the world. She doesn’t mind waiting for him to realize he loves her, too, because all she wants is for him to be happy.
7. Lucy Ricardo, I Love Lucy
…that being utterly ridiculous is always more fun. Lucy and her best friend, Ethel, are always getting into some type of trouble that usually ends poorly. However, Lucy, who tries to come up with schemes to get them out of trouble, proves that people who laugh at themselves and never take life too seriously have all the fun.
8. Olivia Benson, Law and Order
…that a healthy relationship doesn’t make you feel inferior. Benson was born a product of rape, but never lets it define her and makes sure other women know that, too. She’s constantly teaching us that we are in control of our bodies and nothing that has happened in the past defines who we are in the present.
9. Mindy Lahiri, The Mindy Project
…that love in romantic comedies isn’t like love in real life. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but it’s true. Of course, someone can always sweep you off your feet, but love isn’t a fairytale. It’s hard work, exciting, frustrating, elating, and sometimes it just sucks. But that doesn’t mean you should give up. If anything, it makes it that much better when you do find the right person you’re supposed to be with.
10. Santana Lopez, Glee
…how to be yourself even when you’re scared of who you are. Santana struggled with being in love with her best friend and coming out to her grandmother, knowing she wouldn’t accept her. The moment she stopped apologizing for who she is, she taught us to love ourselves for who we are.
11. Cristina Yang, Grey’s Anatomy
…to find your person. Find that friend who just gets you, your soul mate. Find someone you can be yourself around without being judged and someone who will stand by you no matter what. Find someone you can be serious with or absolutely stupid with. Find your person.