The Top 9 Strong Female Characters Ever to Grace a Television Series

Closeup of television

Oodles of television series have created seriously fierce, seriously fabulous strong female characters – who are your faves?

I’ve been addicted to many a television series over the years (TV has always been my drug of choice), but it’s not the show itself that gets me hooked – at least, not at first. When I start watching a new show, I look for “the one.” That one character I want to go through everything with, season after season. That one character I’ll want to scour the screen for next week or binge-watch for hours.

There are so many ah-mazing strong female characters on television now, I get all verklempt just thinking about it. They’re strong, eccentric, and get shit done regardless of their emotional baggage. Whether on “Mad Men” or “Homeland” or “Orange Is The New Black,” it’s a wonder I accomplish anything. Like, ever.

From the hundreds of television series I’ve come in contact with, here are the ladies who’ve been inducted into my personal hall of fame:

1. Miranda Bailey, “Grey’s Anatomy”
Played by Chandra Wilson

Okay, so Bailey was nicknamed “The Nazi” by her co-workers at Seattle Grace – but her tough public persona hides an emotional toll that would ultimately throw her off her game. Her ego is both her strength and her weakness. Even though I couldn’t work with her without needing a change of pants, it’s hard not to be impressed.

2. Gemma Teller, “Sons of Anarchy”
Played by Katey Sagal

The only word I use to describe Gemma is: Dayuuum. As the queen of a California motorcycle club led by her son, she’s just as tough as the men who surround her. She’ll do anything and endure anything to ensure the club and her family’s survival – no matter how savage. Gemma’s got this hate-to-love quality about her: She’s done some insanely gruesome things (I’ll never look at a turkey fork the same), yet I’ll forever be on her (incredibly broken) side.

3. Ethel Mertz, “I Love Lucy”
Played by Vivian Vance

The BFF we all want to have, Ethel was the cheese to Lucy’s macaroni. She was a voice of reason, sharp-tongued, and fiercely loyal. There’s nobody I’d rather work in a chocolate factory with.

4. Carmela Soprano, “The Sopranos”
Played by Edie Falco

Complicated and compelling, Carmela loved and hated her husband Tony Soprano, and could never seem to get past her guilt over reaping the rewards of their incredibly illegal lifestyle. The Sopranos is a television series I could watch multiple times and find new character dimensions I’d never noticed before.

5. Claire Underwood, “House of Cards”
Played by Robin Wright

I find Claire Underwood to be cold, calculating – and totally mesmerizing. I’d love to meet her just so she could ruin my life without so much as a hair out of place. I know Frank’s the ultimate antihero, but his wifey seriously gives him a run for his presidency.

6. Fiona Gallagher, “Shameless”
Played by Emmy Rossum

She dropped out of high school to take care of her brothers and sister while her parents drowned in their addictions. Her loyalty to her family is unparalleled, and I’m excited to see what they do with her character next season: Will she crumble like her parents, or set her baggage aside for the sake of her future?

7. Maxine Gray, “Judging Amy”
Played by Tyne Daly

“Judging Amy” will always be my favorite television series of all time, and much of this is thanks to Maxine Gray: The opinionated, passionate, strong-willed mother of Amy Gray, the show’s protagonist. As a social worker, she does what it takes to help the children in her care, even if that includes bending the law. She handles daunting obstacles with attitude and an unbreakable tenacity that’s hard to top.

8. Elsbeth Tascioni, “The Good Wife”
Played by Carrie Preston

Elsbeth Tascioni is scattered and barely ever says the right thing – basically, she’s me if I’d made the insane decision to become a lawyer. Somehow, through the smorgasbord of emotional baggage, she’s able to stay on task to perform her job brilliantly. The look on her opponents’ faces as she pummels them in court screams “spin-off.”

9. Miss Piggy, “The Muppet Show”
Voiced by Frank Oz

What list of strong female characters would be complete without Miss Piggy? She was originally meant to be a minor character in the television series, but eventually stole the show – and Kermie’s heart. Bestselling author, “Project Runway” guest judge, there’s nothing she can’t do.

Out of all the television series you’ve had the pleasure of watching, who stands out the most to you?

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Krissy Brady

Krissy Brady is a women’s health + lifestyle writer who’s so out of shape, it’s like she has the innards of an 80-year-old. Instead of learning how to crochet, she decided to turn her emotional baggage into a writing career (genius, no?). You can follow her shenanigans on Twitter (you know, if you want).