Stand Up’s Top 15 Empowering Women on TV and in Films

In no particular order, we list our top 15 empowering women in TV shows and films of recent years…


Hannah Parker – Sub-editor

Buttercup – The Powerpuff Girls

As a tomboy girl, you don’t always get much representation. Young girls always seem to be blonde, pretty, blue eyed and sweet. Buttercup is a fiery badass with short black hair who’s never afraid to get stuck in. She gives young girls permission to be whoever they are.

Octavia – The 100

She lived in a basement, being hidden from the world for most of her life. Her brother, Bellamy is over-protective and always underestimating her. But she’s one of the best fighters of all the characters on the show. It’s also refreshing to see a woman fall in love but still refuse to sit back.

Sara Lance (White Canary) – DC’s Legends of Tomorrow

She ticks almost every box. She’s bisexual, and completely owns her sexuality. She’s one of the few women superheroes who’s aesthetically strong, with a six-pack to rival the guys. She’s the best leader of the whole team, and she fights like a boss. Basically, she’s awesome.

Valkyrie – Thor: Ragnarok

It’s relatable to see a woman that doesn’t have it all together. It’s refreshing to see a woman drinking (a little too much) rather than the men. She’s never sexualised, and completely respected in her own right as a strong warrior. She manages to never step into Thor or Hulk’s shadow, and that’s an accomplishment.

Phoebe Buffay – Friends

She’s the weird one, but she proves that women aren’t and shouldn’t all be the same. She stands up for her beliefs with animal rights, and she’s completely loyal. She’s been homeless, her parents were never there for her, and yet she’s kind, loving and will do anything for those close to her.

Steph Farnsworth – Editor

Clarke Griffin – The 100

A bi space leader? Yes, please! Clarke is always the one saving her friends and facing horrific battles. Her love with Lexa is legendary, she rejected Finn because she loved herself more than his games and Clarke gave us a rare exploration of same-gender relationships after bereavement.

Raven Reyes – The 100

Raven is an amazing mechanic who always comes up with solutions to save her friends (even if it means blasting off into space). She has also given us one of the best ever depictions of life with chronic pain, and is one of the greatest Latinx characters on TV.

Samantha White – Dear White People

Sam is headstrong and unapologetic – exactly what is needed from women who are usually told to be quiet. She is an incredibly dedicated activist who shows that people can bring change. Sam is also complex and struggles with her own ideals, showing the strain on those who face endless battles for respect.

Kellie – Black Mirror

Kellie was one of the best ever bi representations, even if she was only around for one episode. She fiercely defended her love for her husband to new flame Yorkie, and refused to have her bisexuality and past relationships with men discarded. Give us more bi women of colour on our screens!

Rey – Star Wars

Rey is the driving force behind Star Wars. The story has been all how the First Order have reacted to her awakening. Despite having no reason to fight, Rey has always done what is right and has stood up against some of the most feared people in the galaxy. Her one-liners are amazing too.

Siarlot Lloyd – Head of Design

Rebecca Bunch – Crazy Ex Girlfriend

Bunch is a horrible human being but a fascinating character. Mental health struggles such as Rebecca’s are so rarely shown on screen, and she’s also body positive in a way that few shows are. She shows that the situation is a lot more nuanced than being just a ‘crazy ex girlfriend’.

Peggy Carter – Marvel Cinematic Universe

Peggy is an awesomely empowering woman, thanks to her ability to kick butt and takes names, all while retaining her 40s chic and successfully struggling against the sexism of the mid-20th century. Plus, we know her hard work and devotion paid off in a spectacular way, becoming director of S.H.I.E.L.D for years.

Emma Swan – Once Upon a Time

The ‘Saviour’ had a hard childhood, shunted from care home to care home and had to give up her son. But despite all the hardships, she battled to bring back the happy endings of Storybrooke, being selfless, brave and true despite loss and heartbreak. Plus, she looks seriously bad ass in a red leather jacket.

Moana – Moana

The heroine of Disney’s latest ‘princess’ film stands apart from the crowd – there’s not even a hint of a love interest, for one. But there’s more to her story than that, exploring her culture while she saves the day. But even more important, despite being chosen by the Ocean, it’s ultimately her decision to fulfil her destiny.

Wonder Woman – Wonder Woman

Smashing box offices records for the DCEU, Wonder Woman is an inspiration in so many ways – not only is she awesome in combat, she’s kind and compassionate as well. Oh, and even cooler, her theme tune is played on electric cello by Tina Guo, who helped compose the music for the film.

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