The greatest screen characters – but something’s missing

Never has Hollywood’s gender problem been more evident.

A new poll compiled by Empire magazine has revealed that of our favourite all-time television and movie characters, only two are female.

Harrison Ford’s iconic Indiana Jones took the top spot on the movies list, beating James Bond, who came in second place.

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Ford, 72, also nabbed third place for his role as Han Solo in the Star Wars films.

The only woman on the list was Ellen Ripley, Sigourney Weaver’s character in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic Alien.

See the full original list here

The poll, voted for by over 10,000 people on also named the top 10 greatest TV characters.

Breaking Bad‘s Walter White was named No.1, just in front of Game Of Thrones hero Tyrion Lannister, played by Peter Dinklage.

Again, only one female appeared on the television list: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, who came in at number seven.

So where exactly are all the women? Sure, there haven’t historically been as many leading ladies as leading men in Hollywood films, but this doesn’t mean we’re lacking in quality female characters.

In fact, it could be argued that many female characters are far more complex and captivating than their male counterparts, who can often be boiled down to the all-encompassing phrase “action hero”.

To prove our point, we’ve compiled a list of the greatest female characters of all time from the big and small screen.

The list of ladies was so densely populated we couldn’t limit it to just 10 – we had to bump it up to 20 – making the fact that only two featured in the original Empire list seem even more ridiculous.

Let us know if we’ve missed anyone in the comments section below!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a favourite among poll respondents.


1. Beatrix Kiddo aka ‘The Bride’ in Kill Bill

2. Annie Hall in Annie Hall

3. Princess Leia in Star Wars

4. Maria from The Sound of Music

5. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter

6. Elle Woods in Legally Blonde

7. Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games

8. Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind

9. Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady 

10. Mrs Robinson from The Graduate

Elle Woods, the “dumb blonde” turned lawyer, was a source of laughter and inspiration for many women.

11. Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs

12. Trinity in The Matrix

13. Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct

14. Bridget Jones in Bridget Jones

15. Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins

16. Mallory Knox in Natural Born Killers

17. Margot Tenenbaum in The Royal Tenenbaums

18. Thelma and Louise in Thelma and Louise

19. Carrie in Carrie

20. Sandy from Grease 

Trinity from The Matrix is able to take care of herself.


1. Lucy from I Love Lucy

2. Elaine from Seinfeld

3. Claire Underwood from House of Cards

4. Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City

5. Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones

6. Scully from The X-Files

7. Peggy from Mad Men

8. Samantha from Bewitched

9. Alexis Carrington in Dynasty

10. Rose from The Golden Girls

Claire Underwood is a modern-day Lady Macbeth.

11. Liz Lemon in 30 Rock

12. Murphy Brown from Murphy Brown

13. Marge Simpson from The Simpsons

14. Violet Crawley from Downton Abbey

15. Carmela Soprano from The Sopranos

16. Mary Richards from The Mary Tyler Moore Show

17. Ally McBeal from Ally McBeal

18. Rachel from Friends

19. Olivia Pope in Scandal

20. Skyler White from Breaking Bad

Lady Violet Crawley isn’t afraid to tell it like it is.

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