Admittedly, we do love a traditionally badass lady. We all know and love her.
The kind of girl who is a certifiable “cool chick,” to borrow some early 2000s terminology — snarky, wild, a little scary, and most probably the proud owner of a leather jacket and a vicious right hook.
But great female characters come in diverse packages and being hard and unapproachable isn’t the only way to be a badass lady.
A woman doesn’t have to be tough as nails to be strong. Incomparable strength also lies in owning who you are, confronting hard times with determination even when it seems impossible, and not taking no for an answer.
There is no shortage of incredible female characters who embody these traits, but we can forget sometimes just how fierce they are.
1. Cho Chang from the Harry Potter movies
Despite the fact that she spends a lot of time crying, Cho Chang is kind of a badass. She may have a name that is technically two last names and is the stereotype of Asian kid sorted into the house known for brains, but Cho is tough.
She’s brave enough to face her emotions after her boyfriend’s death instead of shutting down, totally a skilled athlete and not there to put up with teenage boys and their nonsense.
Plus, despite being distressed about Cedric’s death, she not only strode into joining the school’s super-secret underground defense society, but also she dragged her friend with her.
She’s a prime example of the fact that smart isn’t bookish and sensitive does not mean weak.
2. Amy Santiago from Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Compared to scary unapproachable Rosa and achingly cool Gina, Amy is the pure nerd of the 99th precinct family. However, despite her deep love for binders and rules, Amy Santiago is no loser.
She is not cool. At. All.
But Amy knows that, and she doesn’t care. Amy Santiago is the girl who is awkward and competitive and brilliant and ambitious. She tries so hard and is so straight-laced, but she is no lesser for any of that (and bless the show writers for this!).
When Amy tries hard, it’s not the punchline of a joke because she knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to go for it, no matter how many binders of information it takes her to be the best.
3. Sansa Stark from Game of Thrones
At first sight, Sansa may seem like the opposite of a badass.
Her sister Arya is scrappy and not traditionally feminine, while Sansa seems to care mostly about looking pretty and marrying the prince. You’d think she’s shallow and silly, except that when the going gets tough, Sansa Stark keeps going.
She may be one of the most resilient characters in the entire series: a little girl who lives in a bed of snakes and manages to survive through sheer force of will.
Frankly, the oft-cited reasons for disliking her feel just a little too close to mindless hate at her being a “pretty little girl.”
And that frustrates me because make no mistake, this girl is definitely hardcore.
4. Nani Pelekai from Lilo & Stitch
There is a really good chance Alicia Keys wrote her song Superwoman about Nani Pelekai because my girl is just that good.
Even though she’s super young, Nani not only parents her little sister while trying to hold down a job, she’s also amazing at it. Patient, understanding, nurturing, protective, affectionate – she basically does a better job than loads of adult parents. At just 19 years old, she’s bossy and snarky, but she’s also terrified of social workers and doing a pretty good job of handling life.
And that’s before she inadvertently adopts a houseful of aliens and manages to deal with that too.
5. Callie Torres from Grey’s Anatomy
Full disclosure: I stopped watching Grey’s Anatomy after season eight and can’t speak for all of it.
But up to that point? Callie Torres is, as she yells at the Chief herself, “a superstar with a scalpel!” She’s sexy, she’s kind, and she can build bones and cartilage out of nothing. That alone should make her a traditionally badass woman, but Callie is also the kindest doctor at Seattle Grace and falls in love more easily than making a cup of tea.
The cherry on top of the cake is that Callie knows how fierce she is and is not one to back down from a challenge.
A wonderful and complex blend of fierce and sensitive means that she’s definitely a badass.
6. Elle Woods from Legally Blonde
Of course, no list of underrated female badasses is ever complete without Elle Woods.
Any chance to defy the stereotype of pretty girls not being intelligent girls is good obviously, but Elle just makes it better by not really knowing how to hear the word “no”. Her integrity is as perfect as her artfully tousled hair. She also has her priorities straight, whether it’s the perfect manicure or her plans to be a partner in a law firm by the time she’s 30.
She’s basically a badass bitch who knows how to get stuff done and anyone who underestimates a woman with the drive like that definitely does so at their own expense.