Kicking Butt: Fall TV's Most Badass Female CharactersShannon Robb

The fall TV season is finally upon us and in full swing, as most returning shows premiered their new seasons last week. And boy, is it ever a good time to be a woman in TV! There are a myriad of awesome, amazing, kick ass roles out there for us ladies and it seems to only be getting bigger and better. I thought it would be fun to highlight some of my favorite bad ass characters rocking the tube right now in current shows. In no particular order, other than as they came to me while writing:

Kalinda Sharma (The Good Wife): Kalinda is cooler than Batman. You know it, I know it and everyone in her universe knows it. Kalinda, the wily investigator for Lockhart /Gardner, gets it done – and in sexy boots and leather jackets (the essential bad ass costume). Everyone wants to be her, be with her or get out of her way. She’s not afraid to be sexy and often uses her sexual charms to her advantage for work. She’s also incredibly loyal, doing whatever necessary to protect her truest of friends, Alicia. Just don’t get near her when she’s got a bat. Or a sledgehammer. Seriously, I could go on for days, I love her so much. Just look at the bad assery!

Photo: Eike Schroter / CBS

Emily Thorne (Revenge): Emily Thorne does more in a dress and heels than I can ever imagine. Coming back to the Hamptons to exact her revenge on the people who framed her father, she’s driven by calculation and heartbreak. It doesn’t hurt that she was trained by a master in revenge,Takeda, and has a TON of money in the bank (without which, none of her revenge would be possible). She is an ace at martial arts, plotting her moves (for the most part) and knowing when to say yes to help (otherwise, Nolan wouldn’t be half as fun).  She knows just how to hook her bait, whether with her sweet, charitable persona, her smart, sassy persona or just by putting on the right red dress.


Carrie Mathison (Homeland): Carrie is one of the most compelling characters on television right now and in the capable, amazing hands of Claire Danes, she comes alive. Bipolar CIA agent on the tail of POW Nick Brody as he returns from war, Carrie follows an inkling down a great big rabbit hole taking us along with her. Carrie is incredibly intelligent and able to piece together the smallest fragments to find what she’s looking for. She refuses to back down from an unwelcome opinion, an ill-advised affair or her own bosses once they tell her to stand down. Carrie follows her gut instinct all the way living dangerously on the edge and it’s amazing to watch.

Photo: Kent Smith/SHOWTIME

Olivia Pope (Scandal): Washington D.C.’s number one fixer is also completely awesome. I would love to work for Ms. Pope. Seriously. She hasn’t met many problems that she didn’t think she could fix. Shying away from a challenge is not her style, especially in those she employs – the people who need a way out the most. She is also incredibly intelligent and loves to wear those power suits and power heels while kicking D.C. into shape.

Photo: Randy Homes/ABC

Kate Beckett (Castle): I love Beckett for her independence. She is not only a kick ass detective for the NYPD, but she’s also strong and independent and smart, choosing to become a detective after her mother’s murder. Beckett also knows how to be a team player, sharing the workload with the two other detectives she works with, Ryan and Esposito. She has a soft spot for falling asleep with a good book, and a certain charming author. She rides motorcycles, knows hand to hand combat, can shoot a gun and has saved her “guy” many times.  Plus, Beckett knows how to mix just the right amount of intrigue and flirtatiousness to keep Castle on the hook. And she does all of this while wearing those power boots and leather jackets, too!

Photo: Vivian Zink/ABC

Santana Lopez (Glee): I’ve loved Santana ever since her first pointed dig aimed at Rachel Berry (so basically, her first episode). Our favorite Lima Heights Adjacentian loves to let people know exactly what she’s thinking, and it’s refreshing and usually hilarious. Never mess with a girl who has a Hulk like alter-ego named Snix. Her vicious, vicious words are a highlight of any episode in which they’re thrown around and so is her amazing voice (she is my favorite Glee vocalist, so I’m biased). Santana, please come back from college and serenade us some more! She’s talented, smart, loyal and never backs down from a fight. She got incriminating evidence on tape by taping a  recorder to her underboob and then singing the crap out of Smooth Criminal. Who else would have thought of that? Santana says what everyone else is usually thinking and with such caustic wit you can’t help but love her.  She’s always sticking up for her girl Brittany, she can hold her own against Sue Sylvester and anyone else who gets in her way. Sure, she has softened a little bit now that she’s in love (who doesn’t?), but don’t ever forget that this is a girl who may or may not have razor blades hidden in her hair.

Photo: Justin Lubin/Fox

Debra Morgan (Dexter): Deb hasn’t met an F-bomb she hasn’t liked, used or thought about using at some point. Do you think she has a book at home filled with delightful combinations of curses that she consults every night or does it just flow from her brain? It probably just comes out awesome. Deb no doubt developed her sailor’s mouth in order to fit in at work with the boys, but she didn’t need to worry about that because she’s the most competent cop Miami Metro has on its payroll (when she’s really paying attention, that is!). Getting promoted to Lieutenant last season and finally starting to put some very important pieces together about her brother has given her a new level of awesome. We’ll forgive the weird crush storyline that happened last year because now that she knows the truth, things are going to get even crazier.

Photo: Showtime

Fiona Glennanne (Burn Notice): Perhaps the ultimate tier of badassery is knowing how to use, or diffuse, explosives and Fiona is a genius. The woman loves guns, bombs and anything that goes boom and we love her for it. She can also weasel her way out of all sorts of trouble, knows how to work a room and gains intel like nobody else. Plus, she can throw a mean punch and drive like a bat outta hell.

Quantrell D. Colbert/USA Network

Robin Scherbatsky (How I Met Your Mother): Who doesn’t love a girl who can throw down scotch, loves hockey, can tell a good dirty joke and can hold her own against Barney Stinson? Robin is all kinds of awesome. She’s never backed down from her opinions, she’s supported her friends through thick and thin and she survived teen stardom in the Great White North. Oh, yeah, and she delivered a baby on her news broadcast.

Photo: Karen Neal/Fox

Donna (Parks and Recreation): TREAT YO SELF! Donna loves her Benz, loves her boo and loves her some whiskey. She’s also the queen of silent, wide eyed in disbelief looks at the camera. Donna keeps it real, drives her drunk friends home, doesn’t let Tom get too out of control and knows how to keep backup files of all the important P&R documents (God, Jerry!). She’s confident, knows what she wants and is never afraid to go after it. You can always count on Donna to keep it sassy.  Oh, and she knows Ginuine!

Photo: Danny Feld/NBC


These women are all gracing our TV screens this fall, following in the heels of Buffy and Sydney Bristow, TV’s past Queens of Badass. More importantly, all of these women share another common thread: they are all intelligent, competent, women who can handle themselves. But, they don’t shy away from relationships either (because that would be boring TV). Others include: Callie Torres, Temperance (Bones) Brennan, Elizabeth Mitchell (yes, the actress, in any role she has ever played – we’ll see about Revolution), Victoria Grayson, Annie Walker, Caroline Forbes… so many great roles, so little time!

Image via GoldDerby

  • Larisa Khabarova

    Completely agree with Snezana Matich!

  • Snezana Matich

    Sorry people Stana is much,much better then other badasses

  • Trina McCoy

    Tara Knowles-Teller (Sons of Anarchy)– She’s taking control of her new role as Queen Old Lady and standing ground with Gemma & Wendy. Oh, and she’s now married to tv’s hottest male badass Jax Teller. Definitely my current favorite tv female badass.

  • Aimee Abadilla

    Santana from Glee is on the list? Sorry, but I don’t see how using “vicious, vicious words” to blatantly bully kids is badass in any way. The fact that she’s “funny” when she bullies people doesn’t do her any favors. Replace her with characters like Olivia (Fringe) or Brennan (Bones). Those two characters actually produce something better than being a generally cruel person.

  • Larisa Khabarova

    Stana is a good actress.

  • Larisa Khabarova

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  • Brielle Arnold

    I’m also gonna throw in Lana Kane for being able to kick ass, fire any plethora of weapons, and toss around explosives like no one’s business, all while wearing her knockoff Fiachis…YUP!

  • Karen Reeves

    Even though she was a little crazy, I still love Brenda Chenowith from Six Feet Under. Rachel Griffiths did an amazing job on that show.

  • Kris Kent

    Olivia Dunham – Fringe!!! Smart, savvy, an FBI agent and beautiful. Not afraid of creepy monsters!!

    I agree with Bones. She reminds me of me in social akwardness with intelligence, without actually knowing she is a little off socially. :)
    She is straightforward and doesn’t take No for an answer and she believes in logic, not guesses. She still gets the guy (Booth) and he loves her for who she is. I liked early seasons where she had a gun and beat up the bad guys…

  • Des Jensen

    I actually haven’t seen most of these shows so I can’t comment on all of them. I agree with Fi and with Olivia Pope. I have given up on the abysmal writing of Glee so I have mixed feelings about Santana. Bones has lost her edge. Outside of that… Hawaii Five-0’s Kono Kalakaua. Revolution’s Charlie Matheson is proving a pretty decent force. 2 Broke Girls’ Max Black… Actually, both of them are pretty “badass.” All the women of Warehouse 13 and Haven’s Audrey Parker are probably my picks.

  • Erika Turner

    Temperance Brennan – Bones. Never seen a better female character. Hard to find any sort of feminist flaw with her character and never pushes that idea down your throat. Not to mention, entertaining. Perfect example of how lead female characters should be. Intelligent, Un-apologietic, successful, funny, awkward, badass,.

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