Last year we listed some of our favorite fictional couples. WELL GUESS WHAT? This year I’m turning the spotlight on some of our fictional ladies who manage to ride solo (and one who does that literally OH SNAP), and still succeed. In order to qualify for this list, the ladies didn’t necessarily have to remain single til their dying day, but they did need to remain independent, and getting their man could not be one of their main goals.
Perhaps it’s surprising that one half of my OTP is at the top of this list. But that’s exactly my point here–does Hermione really NEED a man to tell her what to do or how to do it? No. No she does not. And that’s the great part about being on this list, and being a modern lady. You can have a dude in your life but he shouldn’t be a crutch. He should just be a lovely red haired man who is particularly fond of pets and also whose parents are pretty much the best people on the planet. I’m digressing. The point here is that Hermione is smart, she’s resourceful, she knows how to make fire in a jar. Bam. Independent woman.
Runners up in the Harry Potter universe:
Luna Lovegood, who became a herione despite starting off as that crazy chick in the corner, and book!
Ginny Weasley, who is way cooler and more interesting than her wet-noodle movie counterpart.
Merida is the best. When that movie ended and (spoiler alert) she was still chillin’ as a Princess with no Prince, it was like a breath of fresh air. Some people reacted by accusing her of being a lesbian. To which every feminist and most reasonable people on the planet responded, “And so what if she is?”. However, that’s not really the point. The point is, she can ride a gigantic horse, climb mountains without equipment, and quiet a castle mess hall full of rowdy drunk Scotsmen. Trust me–that is no easy feat. Merida doesn’t even care about all the guys trying for her hand, and what’s more, she points out that they shouldn’t be forced to love HER, either. That’s called equality.
That goes to Queen Elinor DunBroch, who kicks ass in spite of her bumbling husband and defiant children. She’s a mom and a Queen and a fairly modern woman. For living in medieval Scotland, of course.
Leia and Hermione have a lot in common in the man category, except that Han is just as independent on his own as Leia is on hers. Their courtship is nothing short of adorable, but Leia knows inter-planetary warfare isn’t the time to let her feelings get in the way of…interplanetary warfare. Not to mention she essentially frees herself from Jabba and manages to kill him before taking off. Okay, so the first time we see her she’s in jail and the guys actually open her cell, but who has the best aim among them? Who gets the message to Obi-Wan in the first place? It’s Leia. Take the men out of the movie and she might have had a harder time getting out of these situations, but without jerks like her overbearing dad (sorry, Vader), maybe there wouldn’t have been the Star Wars to begin with.
On second thought, that would be a terrible idea. Let the men fuck things up so Leia can fix them.
Runners up all come from the Extended Universe.
Jaina Solo, Mara Jade and Ahsoka Tano all squeak in behind Leia. That doesn’t mean they’re less heroic or independent. Ahsoka might still be a Padawan but she’s a heroine in her own right, and Jaina manages to save the entire universe from (surprise) her jerk of a brother. What is it with the Skywalkers and their descendants?
We do not talk about Sailor Moon enough on this site. This suggestion actually came from my boyfriend, who has an excellent point. While each of the sailor scouts kind of split the heroic action, they also split their time fairly equally between being heroic and drooling over boys. In the early seasons, it feels like Serena can’t do shit without fighting over Andrew, Darien, that Fish-eye guy, or (good looks, Usagi…) Amara. Ami, or Sailor Mercury, is the exception that proves the rule in this case. When she isn’t fighting evil by moonlight, she’s studying or helping Rini out with things, or just generally being a fine upstanding citizen. She’s like that friend who you a little bit hated because after they left your mom was always like “why can’t you be more like her?”. Not to mention, she’s always way more on top of the whole fighting evil thing than probably any of the other scouts care to be. She takes everything very seriously. It’s like a pain in the ass to get her to come to the beach. Even in the summer. But all that focus pays off, and Ami frequently stays one step ahead of whatever suddenly anthropomorphic plant the girls wind up fighting.
Runner up in the Sailor Moon universe is Sailor Pluto.
She’s cool, and she doesn’t give a crap about Darien.
BEFORE YOU GET UPSET – Yes I know that in her first episode her storyline revolves around getting and keeping a man. However. Compared to the rest of the Doctor’s companions, Donna is easily the most independent. She likes traveling with the Doctor because it makes her life more interesting, not because she feels bad for and eventually loves him, not because she’s in love with him from the get-go, and not because he promised her he’d be back when she was six and now she’s completely fixated on him. Donna is with the Doctor on her terms, and she gives him shit for being… the Doctor. I’d argue that most of the companions in new!Who are heroines in their own right, but they have at the very least romantically fond feelings towards the Doctor, and spend their time with him like some strange alien-human version of Hugh Hefner and every girlfriend he hasn’t married. They want to make him THEIR Doctor, but Donna just wants to hang out and be bros.
Runner up goes begrudgingly to Martha Jones.
Look, I don’t like her, but I get why people do. She’s in love with the Doctor and he’s a butthole to her, and she leaves. It takes her way longer than I would have liked to figure out he doesn’t feel the same way she does, but I guess she’s better than Clara, whose literal entire storyline revolves around saving the Doctor.
If you’ve been with us since the beginning, you know how I feel about the women in Dragonball/Z/GT, and this may be partially personal preference speaking, but I think Bulma is just the greatest. Again, she marries Vegeta, but I’m pretty sure that went something like, “OH OKAY WE’RE GETTING MARRIED TODAY HERE’S YOUR SUIT HERE’S MY DRESS ANNNND WE’RE DONE.” Bulma is ultra smart, and goes out on her own to find the Dragon Balls. Her independence has been hotly contested (see: comment section on aforementioned post), but I remember Bulma, especially in Dragonball, as a strong woman who will pretty much take a sledge hammer to any man’s head if he disrespects her.
Runners up include Videl and Chi-Chi
Both of whom could beat the crap out of all of us, and without whom their husbands would have died early deaths from gluttony and stupidity. (Although I love them both very much.)
Elphaba is probably more commonly known to most of you as the Wicked Witch of the West. She’s the main character in the novel Wicked, and in the musical based on the novel. Elphaba’s gotten the shaft (not like that you nasties) from all the men in her life, and from some of the women, too. That doesn’t stop her from honing her skills in magic, heading off to University, befriending people who only started chilling with her to make fun of her, and unmasking a major government cover-up. Elphaba wants to become the Wizard’s right-hand woman, but when she finds out what he’s really up to she risks her life to set things right. Even when she does get a man, she doesn’t let him change her direction or slow her down in her ultimate goal: to save the Animals.
Runner up is, of course, Galinda the good. (No I didn’t spell that wrong.)
Galinda is a little too focused on the men around her for my liking, and of course the whole point of Wicked is to reverse our expectations. But in the end it’s not about her relationships with men – not even the Wizard. The story is truly about how Elphaba and Galinda balance each other out and turn each other from caricatures into “real” people. Without one, the other wouldn’t be nearly as complex.
HAVE YOU SEEN THE LION KING? ALSO, DO LIONS HAVE LAST NAMES?
Sarabi. Gives. No. Fucks.
Runner up: Nala.
She tells Simba like it is and drags his ass back to pride rock.
Again, if I need to back this one up, I don’t know where you’ve been living. Lara Croft is still the only female character in video games who single-handedly heads up a massive franchise. She’s gotta be smart and in good shape to do the kind of tomb raiding she’s been doing for decades, and you know you’ve made it when Angelina Jolie plays you in a film. Plus, she’s become more realistically proportioned as the years have passed. Go ahead. Name one man that Lara has had to lean on, for anything, ever.
That’s what I thought.
Tiana has one goal and one goal only: to open her own restaurant. She works hard to save up money to buy her restaurant. She makes lots of food because she wants to get better when she owns her own restaurant. She has the opportunity to cater a big party to get better exposure for her eventual restaurant. See the pattern here? Arguably, Naveen teaches her to love or something, but when they do get married, guess what he does? Goes to work in her restaurant. And guess who told her she needed other people in order to be happy with that restaurant? Mama Odie. Yeah. Tiana don’t need no man.
Runner up: Mulan.
Mulan came before Tiana, and she definitely busted through lady stereotypes and hated being all dolled up by the Matchmaker. However, she makes her sacrifice on behalf of her father, and takes part in the fighting… but doesn’t have her own “restaurant”.
Got any other super ultra badass babes you can think of? Let us know in the comments below!
Hermione: Scholastic; Merida: The Guardian; Leia: Godard’s Letter Box; Ami: Fanpop; Donna: Feministing; Bulma: Fandoms and Feminism; Elphaba: Ohmisselphaba; Sarabi: Virtual Insanity; Lara: Thug Geek; Tiana: Disneyswoonerd