Article By: Aesthel
Representation in the media has always been extremely influential. Today the Cosplay Realm team would like to take a look at some of our top ten favorite influential female characters. This list is in no particular order, as we are huge fans of ALL these characters. With each of these examples we can see how the inclusion of major female characters had left a lasting impression. Many of these female characters were the first of their kind and have been huge influences on pop culture ever since.
1. Princess Leia: Star Wars
Star Wars: A New Hope was released in 1977 and Carrie Fisher’s character Leia Organa has been a staple in pop culture ever since. Recognized most by her hair buns and “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you are my only hope” line, however she is so much more than this. Leia was the daughter of Padme Amidala and Anakin Skywalker, raised by Bail and Breha Organa. She was not only the Princess of Alderaan, but also a diplomat of the galactic senate and a general of the Rebel Alliance and later the Resistance. Princess Leia took a leading role in all three of the original Star Wars films and she has given girls a strong character to look up to ever since.
2. Uhura: Star Trek
Nyota Uhura was a member of the main cast of Star Trek the Original Series played by Nichelle Nichols. Star Trek the Original Series ran from 1966 to 1969. Uhura is an iconic character who has made a huge cultural impact. Not only was she inspiring as a female character, but the fact that she was a female of color in such an important role really changed pop culture forever. In 1968 an episode of Star Trek the original series aired the first ever interracial kiss on television. It is said that the scene was meant to be filmed with and without the kiss, so that the network could later decide whether to air the kiss. However, William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols deliberately did every take of the shot without the kiss wrong so that the shot could not be used.
3. Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman is a character from DC comics. The first Wonder Woman appearance was in 1941 and her first independent comic had its debut in 1942. Wonder Woman’s full name is Princess Diana of Themyscira, Daughter of Hippolyta and she was created by William Moulton Marston (Charles Moulton) who was inspired to create the character by his two partners Elizabeth Holloway Marston, Olive Byrne, as well as feminist icons. Wonder Woman comics have always been a staple of DC comics but she can also be found the Wonder Woman television show of the 1970s starring Lynda Carter, various DC animated series, and most recently the Wonder Woman film of 2017 starring Gal Gadot.
4. Samus Aran: Metroid
Metroid was a game published by Nintendo in 1986. The game followed the main character Samus Aran, a bounty hunter protecting the universe from space pirates who want to harness the power of the Metroid. Samus was the first major female video game protagonist. The majority of the game was played with Samus in her suit of armor and it wasn’t revealed until later in the game that Samus was a female. Samus Aran has been an iconic video game character ever since her first appearance.
5. Eowyn: Lord Of the Rings
Eowyn is a character designed and written by J.R.R. Tolkien for the Lord of the Rings. She was first introduced in the second book, The Two Towers. Eowyn longed for battle though she knew her duty was to her people. In the third book Return of the King, Eowyn disguised herself in armor to join in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. Eowyn famously took down the Witch King. After he declared that “no living man” would hinder him, Eowyn removed her helmet and revealed herself to be a woman and killing him with a thrust of her sword.
6. Xena Warrior Princess
“In a time of ancient gods, warlords and kings, a land in turmoil cried out for a hero. She was Xena, a mighty princess forged in the heat of battle. The power, the passion, the danger. Her courage will change the world.” Xena: Warrior Princess ran from 1995 to 2001, starring Lucy Lawless as Xena and Renee O’Connor as her partner Gabrielle. The show was a spin off of the series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Xena was known for being a strong female character who would take battle into her own hands. The show was also famous for being one of the first mainstream representations of a female LGBT relationship.
7. Hermione Granger: Harry Potter
Hermione Granger was a part of the trio of main characters in the Harry Potter series. Hermione has been a huge influence and role models to girls growing up along with the Harry Potter series. She was smart, independant, and not afraid to defend herself. Hermione came from a mixed family of magic users and non magic users and often faced backlash from people in the magic community. A very clear parallel for those facing issues coming from mixed race families in the real world. Her ability to stay strong and be herself through all of this is only a fraction of what makes her such a great character.
8. Princess Mononoke
Princess Mononoke was a film released by Studio Ghibli in 1997. The film was about the struggle between a forest and the humans abusing it’s resources. A central theme of the film is environmental conservation. It also deals with themes regarding disability and sexuality. The character San was raised by wolves and is the princess of the wolf gods. Her main goal is protecting the forest. She is strong and able to fight to protect herself and others. San has become an iconic female within anime as the film was such a huge domestic and international success.
She-Ra was the main character from the 1985 cartoon She-Ra: Princess of Power. She was the long lost twin sister of Prince Adam of the series He-Man: Masters of the Universe. She-Ra was a strong willed woman who believed in doing the right thing above all else. She is also very strategic and loyal. Recently a new She-Ra series has gone into development and will be released by Netflix on November 16, 2018. Some fans of the original series have had backlash about these new redesigns, which are now designed to look younger to appeal to the show’s main audience of young females.
10. Daenerys Targaryen: Game of Thrones
Daenerys of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regnant of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons. Daenerys was one of the main point of view characters in the Song of Ice and Fire books as well as the television show Game of Thrones. She is one of the last people of her family’s house and through the story has become a major leader in her own right. Her title really says it all, as she has grown from a young meek character to a strong leader of her people ready to take her throne back.