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9 Empowering Fictional Female Characters To Look Up To

While empowering women in my personal life are certainly crucial to my growth as a cis woman, I have found that many of my lessons about being a woman were taught through fictional female characters. This list combines just some of the many incredible fictional women whose strength, determination, and unapologetic confidence make viewers like me feel empowered. 

Hermoine Granger

We begin this list with a childhood favorite. Hermoine Granger from the Harry Potter series,  both in the novels and the film series portrayed by Emma Watson, was for many young women, one of their first exposures to empowering women in popular culture. Granger’s unabashed intelligence and genuine eagerness prove that she is a force to be reckoned with.

Katniss Everdeen

Another childhood favorite for this list. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games series, in both the novels and the film series portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence, is an empowering character for her determination, her immense bravery, and her decisions to go against the societal structures and question the authority in place.

Jo March

The iconic leading character of Little Women–in all of its film versions as well as the original book–is a must-have for this list. Jo March is a symbolic character for many women to look up to–she is unapologetically opinionated and demonstrates a woman’s desire and capability  to both be successful in her passions AND be a wife.

Meredith Grey

The iconic character in Shonda Rhimes’ Grey’s Anatomy (now on its 17th season) could not be exempt from this list. Meredith Grey, portrayed by Ellen Pompeo, is a fierce leading lady who is empowering in her simultaneous performance of sexual positivity and in her magnificent role as both an intern and eventual Chief of General Surgery.

Pam Beesly

While maybe not the most outwardly powerful character on this list, Pam Beesly from The Office, portrayed by the lovely Jenna Fischer, shows empowerment through her character development on the show. From ending a toxic relationship to securing a job she wants, and finally finding the courage to speak her mind, Beesly is an inspirational character to all women.

Peggy Olson

Probably my personal favorite on this list. Peggy Olson of Mad Men, portrayed by Elizabeth Moss, is the epitome of a powerful woman in a male-dominated industry. Facing constant harassment and belittlement as a secretary in the advertising office, Olson breaks away from her shell and climbs an incredible ladder in her character development throughout the show.

Annaliese Keating

Despite covering up a few crimes and harboring some guilt herself, Annaleise Keating, portrayed by Viola Davis, is the powerful female protagonist of How to Get Away With Murder, another fantastic creation from Shonda Rhimes. Keating is the backbone of the series–her chilling courtroom scenes and passionate speeches will undoubtedly leave you inspired.

Leslie Knope

The goofy character of Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation, portrayed by Amy Poehler, is empowering in her inability to back down from her goals. Despite her quirky and naive characteristics, Knope is an inspirational woman for her supportive persona and her motivated and driven personality.

Olivia Pope

Another Shonda Rhimes creation, Olivia Pope of Scandal, portrayed by Kerry Washington, is a powerful female character. With the countless moral and professional conflicts thrown her way, Pope reminds us just how strong women in political roles can be. 

Lauren Serge

Ohio U '23

Lauren Serge is currently a junior at Ohio University, majoring in Journalism: Strategic Communication and specializing in Marketing and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She is the current President and Co-Campus Correspondent for the Her Campus OU chapter. She enjoys writing, biking, spending time with her family, friends, and her dog, as well as catching up on her many favorite tv shows.
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