33 Female Characters Who Inspired the Hell Out of Us in 2017

This year was hard for a lot of people, but especially for women. Fortunately, in 2017, movies and TV shows gifted us with no shortage of diverse, hilarious, heartbreaking, and brilliantly written female characters to inspire us to keep pushing through the bullsh*t. From heroic action stars to heroic housewives, read on to see which onscreen women made POPSUGAR editors feel especially badass this year.

01
Eleanor Shellstrop, The Good Place
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Eleanor Shellstrop, The Good Place

"I fell in love with Eleanor Shellstrop from The Good Place right away – and in the show's second season, she's gained an entire inner life that continues to inspire, excite, and surprise me with each and every episode. The fact that she isn't perfect (and doesn't pretend to be) makes her a fascinating character, but the fact that she's trying to be a better person (despite all the odds) is what really inspired me in 2017." — Chelsea Hassler, Senior Editor, News and Culture

02
Issa, Insecure
HBO

Issa, Insecure

"Issa Rae is the badass bitch I wish I could be. The way her character on Insecure goes through everyday life with humor and approaches relatable struggles through hilarious back-and-forth advice sessions with her female friends (and with kickass raps) makes watching the HBO comedy feel like hanging out with friends." — Alessia Santoro, Editor, Moms

03
Sansa Stark, Game of Thrones
HBO

Sansa Stark, Game of Thrones

"Game of Thrones has no shortage of strong women thanks to characters like Arya Stark and Daenerys Targaryen, but it's Sansa of House Stark, eldest daughter of Ned and Catelyn and Lady of Winterfell, that I consistently find myself rooting for. She has her flaws, sure, but I find that much of the ire directed her way is due to how feminine she is compared to her tomboy little sister or warriors like Brienne of Tarth. Her arc from a helpless wannabe princess to a politically savvy HBIC is inspiring, and even though she can't command a dragon, her ice cold strength rivals every other character on the show." — Quinn Keaney, Assistant Editor, Celebrity and Entertainment

04
Miriam "Midge" Maisel, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
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Miriam "Midge" Maisel, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

"I love how tenacious, outgoing, and determined Midge is, even in the 1950s. She's an awesome and hilarious character, which I should have expected since she's the brainchild of Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman Palladino. Seeing how funny, likable, and strong she is makes me proud to be an extremely talkative and outspoken woman even when the world says I should be submissive and quiet." — Sarah Siegel, Editorial Assistant, Shopping & Products

05
Michael Burnham, Star Trek: Discovery
CBS

Michael Burnham, Star Trek: Discovery

"Despite her Vulcan upbringing, Michael is the heart of Discovery. Her relationships with the crew, especially her former captain, ground the series, and her curiosity about everything around her, though occasionally leading to trouble, also yields great knowledge." — Rachel Crowley, Copy Editor

06
Offred, The Handmaid's Tale
Hulu

Offred, The Handmaid's Tale

"Unfortunately I hadn't read Margaret Atwood's book till after viewing the series, but I was completely blown away and inspired by Offred's strength in The Handmaid's Tale. I'd love to think that if I were in a similar scenario (however awful to imagine) I would handle myself similarly — a combination of playing the game just enough to keep myself out of serious danger, refusing to compromise my morals, and never giving up without a fight." — Joanna Douglas, Senior Native Editorial Director

"Watching June risk her life and defy her oppressors to take care of those she loves is inspiring and thrilling. As sad as it is, this show is extremely relevant right now and constantly reminds me how important it is for women to stick together." — SS

"Even when beaten down and oppressed, with every right and emotion taken away, Offred and the handmaids do what they can to support each other and rebel in whatever ways possible. Despite being considered property rather than people, Offred and Moira make plans, twist their way into the system, and play the game however they need to to survive and break free. Don't let the bastards get you down, the Offred before June wrote in protest — and she doesn't." — RC

07
Maria Bamford, Lady Dynamite
Netflix

Maria Bamford, Lady Dynamite

"I am continually in awe of Maria Bamford's willingness to portray mental illness in Lady Dynamite. Season two of the Netflix show revealed even more of what it looks like down the deep rabbit hole of bipolar disorder, fearlessly featuring a vision of the illness based on Bamford's real life struggles. The character of Maria is shattering stereotypes, generating necessary conversation, and entertaining all of us along the way." — Maggie Panos, Editor, Voices

08
Abbi and Ilana, Broad City
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Abbi and Ilana, Broad City

"Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer are the most hilarious duo on TV right now, and completely embody the fierce bond between female best friends. Whether you're a young woman struggling through life in New York City or not, you can definitely find a way to relate to the characters of Broad City. The show is hysterical, honest, real, and oozes girl power (and makes me wish Abbi and Ilana could be my BFFs for real)." — AS

09
Taystee, Orange Is the New Black
Netflix

Taystee, Orange Is the New Black

"I was so inspired by how Taystee stuck to her principles and mission in season five despite the chaos of the prison riot." — Nancy Einhart, VP, Executive Editor

10
Celeste, Big Little Lies
HBO

Celeste, Big Little Lies

"Nicole Kidman's performance in Big Little Lies is one of my most favorite in recent memory. The powerful way she depicted the realities of domestic violence — and how it's not always easy to walk away — left an impact on me after the powerful season finale. Her emotional performance was incredible and I can't wait to see her character's development in season two." — Erin Cullum, Assistant Editor, Trending and Viral Features

11
Olivia Pope, Scandal
ABC

Olivia Pope, Scandal

"Olivia Pope is so over-the-top badass on Scandal this season and it really warms my heart. She has always been an icon, but she's been so unapologetically fierce that I find myself screaming at the TV more than usual. You can tell they're pulling out all the stops and trying to go out with a bang (or two) before the show ends, and Olivia's lack to f*cks to give is pretty inspiring." — Britt Stephens, Lead Editor, Celebrity

12
Admiral Holdo, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
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Admiral Holdo, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

"Leia was long our female hero of the Star Wars movies, and with The Force Awakens, we finally got Rey as the ultimate role model. To be honest, I wasn't expecting anyone to be an even more exciting female character in this franchise. Then we met Admiral Holdo, played by Laura Dern. I admit, I was a little put off by her overly-fancy hair and gown — why wasn't she dressed more utilitarian?! But as she shows her strategy for defeating the First Order, patiently, calmly, and with restraint, I fell in love (I also enjoyed every second of her shooting down Poe's impulsive whims). This goddess — handpicked by Leia — would be the one to carry on her legacy. She may be less 'fun' than someone like Poe who wants to blow literally everything up, but I really appreciate that we get a character worthy of so much respect." — Shannon Vestal Robson, Director, Celebrity and Entertainment

13
Madeline, Big Little Lies
HBO

Madeline, Big Little Lies

"I appreciate that Madeline is so unabashedly who she is, to hell with what anyone thinks of her. She's clearly sensitive, she clearly cares, but she's a fighter, her flaw being that she's a bit too self-involved and self-serving. These are traits we tend to see assigned more often to male characters, but it shows that women can be brash and pushy and not feel ashamed about it, or as if it's not being feminine, because Madeline is still very feminine." — Cynthia Puleo, Copy Editor

14
Valkyrie, Thor: Ragnarok
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Valkyrie, Thor: Ragnarok

"Yes, we're still waiting for Marvel's first standalone superhero movie with a female lead character, and no shade to Captain Marvel, but Valkyrie is the superhero queen I'm dying to see with her own movie. Tessa Thompson broke out into the mainstream with her flawed, alcoholic antihero whose valor has been cloaked by her grief. In the funniest Marvel movie so far, we got the best female character in a Marvel film so far." — SVR

"Despite her strength (she's an elite Asgardian warrior, after all), Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie spends so much time getting her footing in Thor: Ragnarok. We meet her on the downswing of her particular heroic arc when she's refusing to follow the oath she took after the loss of her fellow Valkyries, including her lover, but she doesn't just leave everything behind when she rises back up; she brings her trauma and her anger with her to fight Hela. Her motivations are all her own, and she keeps on despite all that's happened to her." — RC

15
Princess Margaret, The Crown
Netflix

Princess Margaret, The Crown

"The Crown had another spectacular season, and that's thanks in no small part to the rebel Princess Margaret. What inspired me most about her was her commitment to giving no f*cks — about convention, about tradition, about being 'proper.' The 'Beryl' episode was absolutely my favorite because her sassy, witty persona really got to shine. And, while she is certainly flawed (and vain, for one), I consider her a heroine of recklessness. As a type A personality who overplans and overanalyzes even the simplest of things myself, I'd like to embody an ounce of her spontaneity." — Kristina Rodulfo, Beauty Editor

16
Nola Darling, She's Gotta Have It
Netflix

Nola Darling, She's Gotta Have It

"I never saw Spike Lee's original She's Gotta Have It from 1986, but I watched the entire Netflix adaptation in just a couple days. Nola Darling is unapologetically herself, and I loved following her feminist journey that ultimately ends with her decision to focus on her own happiness before anybody else's. I live for this line from the last episode when a visibly offended Greer asks, 'What kind of lady acts . . . ', and she responds, 'Like a man?'" — EC

17
Diana Prince, Wonder Woman
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Diana Prince, Wonder Woman

"As much as I love Wonder Woman and all she stands for, Diana Prince is my everything. Her passion for truth and justice, her belief in humanity's goodness, and her love for all people, regardless of all the nastiness we're capable of, means so much to me. All it takes is one person to stand up and turn the tide — and it will probably be a woman." — RC

18
Rose Tico, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
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Rose Tico, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

"She's smart and brave and idolizes her heroes before becoming one herself. If your heroes don't live up to your expectations of them, Rose will teach you to become your own." — RC

19
Denise, Master of None
Netflix

Denise, Master of None

"Lena Waithe won an Emmy for writing the episode of Master of None that was inspired by her own coming-out experience, but it was more than just a personal story people could connect to. It was that, but it's also an important barrier breaker, it finally realizes Denise's character, and it's another important reminder of how much representation matters." — SVR

20
Daenerys Targaryen, Game of Thrones
HBO

Daenerys Targaryen, Game of Thrones

"The most recent Game of Thrones season challenged both Daenerys and fans of Daenerys. Now that she has to put her money where her mouth is and rule the kingdom she's just been talking about ruling for seasons, suddenly not everyone is on board with her grab for ambition. Her shows of force and resolve get her compared to her father, the Mad King, but I'm happy she shows little mercy when she needs to. Daenerys is the Queen fans have been waiting for, and no, she hasn't been perfect, but characters who are are boring ones." — SVR

21
Mary Agnes, Godless
Netflix

Mary Agnes, Godless

"Although Godless isn't exactly the feminist Western I was expecting, I still enjoyed it immensely thanks to Merritt Wever's performance as the tough-as-nails Mary Agnes. Not only does she have no problem taking the remaining men of her small mining town to task, but the self-appointed mayor also has a tender side that Wever portrays with a subtle beauty." — QK

22
Kat, Sutton, and Jane on The Bold Type
Freeform

Kat, Sutton, and Jane on The Bold Type

"While The Bold Type does go down a path that's been well-trodden by other stilettoed feet, the show remains fresh, smart, and completely charming. With each episode, it admirably bucks the tired tropes we've seen in stories like this before with ease: the dragon-like HBIC, backstabbing female coworkers, worn-out love triangles. In their place is a relatable story about three young women and best friends — Kat, Sutton, and Jane — who are doing their damn best, despite making one monumental mistake after another." — QK

"I LOVED the first season of The Bold Type and its three main characters. They're smart, strong women who make their friendship a priority, and their female boss is accomplished, firm, and thoughtful. It may be the first show ever, especially one about a magazine, that features ZERO women tearing each other down." — Casey McCormick, Creative Strategist

23
Lorraine Broughton, Atomic Blonde
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Lorraine Broughton, Atomic Blonde

"When it comes to James Bond, all anyone ever wants to talk about is whether or not Idris Elba will be cast, or if Tom Hiddleston will step into the role, or if Daniel Craig will just suck it up and do a few more. To all of those people I say: who gives a f*ck about James Bond when Agent Lorraine Broughton exists? Charlize Theron kicks an unbelievable amount of ass in this movie. Her fighting style is just as fierce as her coat collection (read: extremely fierce), and the chemistry she has with costars Sofia Boutella and James McAvoy is electric. I need more Lorraine in my life and I need it now." — QK

24
Beth Pearson, This Is Us
NBC

Beth Pearson, This Is Us

"I'm all about Wonder Woman and Daenerys and all those larger-than-life female characters that dominated pop culture this year, but honestly, the one that sticks out most to me is Beth from This Is Us. She's a loving, powerful force within her family and I'm always struck by Beth and Randall's honest, balanced marriage. Sometimes it's those realistic heroes that really make an impact, you know?" — Laura Meyers, Editor, Trending and Viral Features

25
Cotton, Star
Fox

Cotton, Star

"Amiyah Scott is breaking boundaries. She's the first trans series regular, and this is also the actress's first professional role — she's killing it. Her character can't seem to escape tragedy, but I appreciate the reality of her situation and the vulnerability she shows as Cotton. Oh, and she always looks flawless." — Sen Cai, Editorial Intern

26
Arya Stark, Game of Thrones
HBO

Arya Stark, Game of Thrones

"While previous Game of Thrones seasons have given us more character growth for Arya, season seven is when we find out if everything she's been through has closed her off from her family, and her emotional, human side. It's in the finale, when she swiftly executes Petyr Baelish that we learn the truth about Arya: she can be a Stark, fiercely loyal to her family, and also be a fierce warrior who's learned the ugliness of the world. That she's not a one-dimensional monster now is a credit to Game of Thrones — and a relief to the fans who have been rooting for her all along." — SV

27
Jessi Glazer, Big Mouth
Netflix

Jessi Glazer, Big Mouth

"Big Mouth might make me cringe about every three seconds per episode, but the coming-of-age cartoon is a joy. I love all of the characters, but pre-teen Jessi's emotional rollercoaster of a journey through puberty is especially fun (and hilarious) to watch. She might be an animated middle schooler, but there's not one part of her season one story that grown women can't relate to." — QK

28
Laura Moon, American Gods
Starz

Laura Moon, American Gods

"Laura Moon is one of the most f*cked-up characters of the year, honestly, but she's refreshing in that. She's unfaithful, flawed, and broken, but she's also one of the strongest and smartest characters in the show, ruthless and willing to do whatever it takes to get her way. She basically tells Anubis, the god of death, to f*ck off — even if she is already dead at the time." — RC

29
Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson, Lady Bird
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Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson, Lady Bird

"I went to see Lady Bird with my closest girlfriends, and I think we were expecting to be entertained but I don't know if we were expecting to feel so empowered. Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson is many things, but above all she is bold. She shakes hands with the guys she's interested in, she grabs people's attention at parties, she dances without abandon with her best friend. Since seeing the film, when my friends and I want to encourage each other to do something out of our comfort zone we say "Be Lady Bird!" and we actually go out and do it. I'm such a fan of watching women take control of their own lives, and Lady Bird gave me that and so much more." — Karenna Meredith, Editorial Intern

30
Jessica Huang, Fresh Off the Boat
ABC

Jessica Huang, Fresh Off the Boat

"Jessica Huang (Constance Wu) is unbelievably funny and talented. I could watch her wrangle those kids forever, but I especially love it when she does her own thing and solves problems with her unique, non-housewife perspective. She's a badass." — CM