When it comes to genres, science fiction was really groundbreaking in the roles of women. The faces of Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton graced our screens, and boy, were they epic. There are many, many strong roles of women outside of this genre, but sic-fi allowed us to have some really cool female characters who have become iconic. So, in no particular order, here are some of my favourite women in science fiction.

Captain Kathryn Janeway (Star Trek: Voyager)

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The only central female captain of the Star Trek series, leading USS Voyager home from the Delta Quadrant for 7 years. She was strong, cool, and controlled, and managed to get her crew back to Earth despite the many set-backs they encountered. Although we see many other women captains throughout the Star Trek universe, none of them are the main focus of a show, and none of them are so wonderfully explored.

H.G Wells (Warehouse 13)

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A female H.G Wells?! I totally geeked out when this bombshell was dropped… that H.G Wells was in fact Helena. G Wells, and that the well-known author was in fact her brother Charles who basked in her glory. A former Warehouse Agent gone a bit wonky after the murder of her daughter, who was bronzed for over a century, came out of the bronzer as a villain, only to later to help the Warehouse team out in saving the world a couple of times. This genius Victorian was completely awesome to watch. Oh, and, Bering and Wells.

Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Battlestar Galactica)

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Starbuck was a man in the original Battlestar series, only to be replaced by Katee Sackhoff in the reimagined version. Swearing, drinking, smoking and seriously badass… This fighter pilot evolved a lot throughout the series. She went from not caring at all about her own life, to being prepared to sacrifice herself in order to save others. This grimy character was also never afraid to challenge authority, and by the end of the series she was my favourite character in the entire thing.

Sarah Connor (The Terminator Series)

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In the first movie she was a young waitress, caught up in a terrifying ordeal where she was chased by Arnie the robot, and finally manages to crush him with a hydraulic press, saving her, and her unborn child. In the second, she is no longer timid and wimpy, but is ferocious and muscled. Sarah Connor even got her own spinoff series, where Linda Hamilton was replaced by Lena Headey (Cersei what are you doing here?!) in ‘Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles’ or, as I like to call it, ‘The Sarah Conicles’. You know, she’s only the mother of the saviour of mankind. No biggie.

Donna Noble (Doctor Who)

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What could you possibly match David Tennant’s sass with? How about Catherine Tate’s sass? She’s not the youngest or the prettiest of The Doctor’s companions, but Donna Noble was certainly the most fabulous. Hilarious, sarcastic, a good ‘mate’ for The Doctor, with the ability to feel compassion for individuals in a crisis. She was very entertaining to watch, and sad to lose. I can only hope that one day we will have another Christmas special where Donna makes an appearance.

Turanga Leela (Futurama)

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If there had to be one animated character on this list, it would be Leela. A main character in the animated science fiction comedy ‘Futurama’, Leela is both a comical and occasionally tragic character who we love to watch beat people up. She has a sad background, thinking she was abandoned by alien parents in a horrible orphanage, only to find later on that she is in fact… a sewer mutant. It doesn’t stop her making us laugh, in her relentless efforts as captain of the Planet Express ship to control Fry and Bender on missions and to rebuff Zapp Brannigan’s advances. Sometimes I think she’s the only vaguely sane character on the show, and then I realise that even she isn’t fully sane.

Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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This show may be more supernatural than spaceships and robots, but either way Buffy is a cool cucumber. (Did I just say that?) She is high school cheerleader who finds out that she is a Slayer who must fight demons, vampires, and just… evil in general. She and the Scooby Gang, consisting of her friends Xander, Willow and her Watcher, Giles, go around saving the world from the apocalypse half of the time, and she even falls in love with a vampire. Buffy was literally made to break stereotypes and has become a cultural icon.

Olivia Dunham (Fringe)

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Olivia Dunham is brilliant, complex and completely driven, never stopping until she has solved each and every case, wrapped it up and put a pink ribbon around it. She works with the insane Dr. Bishop, his son Peter Bishop and FBI Junior Agent Astrid (Astro, Asterisk, Asprin, Asteroid) in order to solve cases on the fringe of science, meaning she has to deal with a lot of freaky stuff. Even her alternate universe-self is loveable. Oh, and she can travel between universes. Oh, and she can catch bullets. Oh, and she’s awesome.

River Tam (Firefly, Serenity) 

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Initially she was a genius, who was very gifted in many ways and very graceful. Then, when she was experimented on, we see a slightly more sinister side to the airy-fairy and very much insane River Tam. When I say sinister, what I really mean is mind-blowing. In the short-lived series (WHY FOX, WHY?) we saw hints of her psychic abilities, and her fighting skills. In Serenity, we see her get activated as a biological weapon, and anyone who has seen the film will say how cool her fighting in the bar scene is. Not only that, but she manages to take out an entire room of terrifying Reavers.

Ellen Ripley (The Alien Franchise)

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Iconic? Me? The character of Ripley in Ridley Scott’s 1979 movie was originally written as a man, and later on they decided to start auditioning women for the role too. Enter Sigourney Weaver, and with her enter the original female action hero. Ellen Ripley was the strongest, calmest and most logical character in the first film. In fact, had everyone else listened to her, they’d probably have made it too. In the second film, the drastically different action movie as apposed to the slow-buring horror, but equally epic, we see a maternal side to Ripley in her handling of Newt. As well as being a great mother figure to Newt, Ripley is bad-ass with a gun, and utters one of the coolest lines in science fiction: “Get away from her you BITCH!”

Who are your favourite female characters in science fiction?

 

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