It’s not everyday that heroes comes along and changes the course of American history. For the next five weeks, we count down the 50 best women heroes in fiction. Heroes were chosen from every platform of pop culture, including film, tv, literature, and stage. They were also inspired by you, the fans, on the many polls that the Heroes Podcast Network can offer. Lastly, the women were chosen based on their iconic statuses, fandom following, and the admirable qualities the individual characters possess.
Looking for a bunch of dudes? Aren’t we all? Don’t worry; the 50 best men heroes in fiction is up next! But what about the great baddies of history too? Yep, that list is in the works as well! Now, enjoy the countdown. Here’s #40-31.
If you missed #41-50, you can catch Part 1 of our Heroes of Women countdown here.
40. Elizabeth Bennett
Pride and Prejudice
Elizabeth Bennett means many things to many people. But existing for over 200 years will do that to you (Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813 by Jane Austen). During that time, she has symbolized the joy that can be found in life. She is a free-spirited, loving woman who refuses to settle in life when it comes to marriage. She demands on marrying for love instead of status, educating herself when the masses look down upon a learned woman, and she prefers the company of her sisters rather than stuffy balls with the elitist upper class. She was a role model before we even began classifying fictional characters as role models.
39. Twilight Sparkle
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Did you see the old 1980’s renditions of My Little Pony? Do you remember how awful they were? They were about very vain ponies who would spend their time brushing hair and gossiping about one another. Then the wonderful Lauren Faust comes along and revamps everything, giving us more than enough well-rounded characters including the amazing Twilight Sparkle. She’s this relentless book worm who comes to Ponyville friendless (save for Spike) and has blossomed into the Princess of Friendship. Over six seasons, she has grown so much that it’s difficult not to be moved by her journey.
38. Daenerys Targaryan
Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire
There’s not many events more moving than watching Daenerys grow from actual property to the Mother of Dragons. This woman begins the story as a meek, subservient girl, just wanting to please her disgusting brother, Viserys. Once she sees him for the coward he is and realizes her own strength, Daenerys becomes more than the sum of her parts. She sets herself on fire and walks away unscathed. She rules as the Khaleesi, she sacks cities, she trains dragons, she beguiles and betrays terrible men. She is a force to be reckoned.
San, the leading lady from Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke, was raised by the wolf goddess, Moro, leaving her appearing savage to the untrained eye. She is a protector, first and foremost, of her family, of her forest. Because of this, she is also incredibly stubborn and irritable. As the daughter of Moro, she rejects her all of her humanity until she meets Ashitaka, the Prince of Emishi Village. The love that the two of them share has her embrace the humanity she had forsaken but maintain the loyalty she feels towards her wolf family and her forest home.
36. Jo March
Oh, Jo. What a marvelous woman. Another independent, fiercely loyal literary character who has influenced little girls for almost 200 years. Jo March wanted a career, which wasn’t unheard of at the time, but was rare. Since her sex put her at such a huge disadvantage, Jo keeps in abundance her diligence and optimistic attitude. She never gives up on the goal of being a novelist and never takes no for an answer. Her fortitude only adds to her resilience.
35. Peggy Carter
Agent Carter and Marvel Cinematic Universe
If you can’t be a superhero, be Peggy Carter instead. She is fearless and enduring and fans latched onto her with incredible force. Peggy was the pro at keeping her composure under duress. She was kind and feminine, without being a damsel. When it came down to it, Peggy Carter could handle herself. She dedicated her whole life to a greater cause, working behind the scenes to guarantee the safety of America (and she was British, so that makes sense). While she was initially intended to just be a some love interest for Chris Evans, Peggy Carter’s true nature showed through and became more than the sum of her parts.
34. Matilda Wormwood
This little girl may be the kindest, gentlest soul ever written about in fiction. She’s also an underrated hero among both literature and film fans alike. Matilda, as kind as she is, embodies the complete opposite of the people surrounding her. Her horrible parents are scam artists and frauds. Her principal is tyrannical and cruel. It is only through her perseverance of kindness does she discover her telekinetic powers, finally enacting one of the most satisfying revenge scenes ever imagined.
33. Captain Kathryn Janeway
Star Trek: Voyager
A lot can be said for Captain Kathryn Janeway (or Vice Admiral, as she comes to be known). She is the first female Captain in Star Trek history (which is surprising considering how progressive the show has always been). She is the first Starfleet captain to head into the Delta zone, encountering new planets and civilizations never to be seen. She is a fan favorite, often chosen as the best captain among the entire franchise. And it’s no mystery why. She is a kind soul, who puts her crew before hers, even merging them with lost members of the Maquis. She was put multiple times into ethical dilemmas where she comes out a better person.
32. Daria Morgendorfer
Beavis and Butthead, Daria
A show designed to feature just your average apathetic teenager turned out to be one of the most influential characters of the 90’s. She encapsulated everything the 90’s stood for: a rebellious youth feeling lost among the crowd. It was no longer obvious what your purpose in life was and Daria felt the overwhelming crush of societal pressures on a daily basis. Instead of having nervous breakdowns or embracing a path she wasn’t interested in, she did her best of not giving any useless cares about anything she didn’t want. By rejecting the social norm, she was a role model for everyone that didn’t feel like being in a box.
31. Captain Marvel
Carol Danvers was a character Marvel just couldn’t get right for the longest time. It was almost embarrassing having one of the most powerful characters on their Avenging roster with nothing of substance to back her up. But in 2012, they did the absolute best thing possible for her: they renamed her Captain Marvel and everything else just fell into place. They put her in control of S.W.O.R.D., made her a starring member of Guardians of the Galaxy and A*Force. What had been hiding behind skimpy costumes had been a dynamic woman who kicks some serious ass, is brainy as hell, and the perfect woman to get things done. She was even the central focus of the 2016’s Civil War II story-line, being the first woman to lead a multi-crossover event in many, many years. Her contribution to the Marvel universe, both comic and cinematic will go down historically in pop culture.
So there you have it, our next 10 women heroes. What do you think of our list so far? Tune in for #21-30 soon!