Top Five Complex Female Charaters

Happy belated International Women’s Day! Last week we celebrated the empowering day by congratulating our real-life female friends. With all the doom and gloom that is plaguing our academic lives, let’s celebrate some of the best fictional female characters that are currently on air. In the last ten years we have seen a breath of incredibly complex and interesting characters – given the special day, I wanted to count down the top ten complex female characters. Here’s too many more!


Anybody that’s watched ‘Game of Thrones’ has seen the incredible character progression in Sansa Stark. In less than seven seasons, she has gone from naïve girl to the confident leader in the North. She has never been a perfect character – in earlier season, most people even hated her for having an idealistic view. But that’s why she’s so complex: she has been forced to adjust her perceptions of others and learned to survive and thrive in many situations that would have killed her. That being said, it is Game of Thrones – we won’t truly know that she’s survived until we see the ending credits of the last episode! SELINA MEYER – VEEP

Awful, clueless and verging on dangerous political leaders might hit a bit too close to home for some of us but Selina Meyer did it before it was cool. Not often enough can female characters be as deeply, deeply flawed where Selina Meyers can: she is somehow awful at her job, a bad mother and a horrible friend, and you still root for her. It is a testament to Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ performance that we can laugh at her while laughing with her as well. She is a character that proves that women can be as awful and sympathetic as men, all while bringing a level of complexity that many other characters lack. LESLIE KNOPE – PARKS AND RECREATION

In an age of anti-heroes and shows going edgier and darker, ‘Parks and Recreation’ is a shining example of good people doing good things – with Leslie Knope fronting as the main character. She is a character that is complex because she is realistic: while she’s an optimistic and is committed to her job, she does have her own flaws. She’s allowed to be a well-rounded individual and actually gets everything that many women are told to compromise: she gets her happy ending that feels earned, through her own hard work and optimism.


I debated putting this character in well, because she’s not a character; she’s based upon a real person, Elizabeth II. But it would be a shame to remove her. She’s a striking character because she’s not ‘modern’ – while many female characters are now clamoring to prove themselves as the most badass, Elizabeth is clearly devoted to wanting to have a more domestic role. Her complexity and struggle is shown thatshe is not necessarily suited for her dominant role. The ongoing issue that she needs to strip apart the ‘real’ parts of her to replace them with the monarch the United Kingdom needs is one of the most intriguing parts of the show. CERSEI LANNISTER – GAME OF THRONES In contrast, Cersei Lannister has the opposite problem. Being the queen is something that she desperately wants but is always out of her reach. Over the seven seasons, we have seen her struggle for power and has emerged as the ‘true’ villain of Game of Thrones. She’s allowed to be truly evil and commit really sinful acts but is never just defined as that; Cersei has her softer moments, both with her children and with Jamie, but she’s never only allowed to be one. To see a clearly established anti- hero like Cersei is something that we should celebrate, especially as that’s a role that is normally reserved for men.