Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.
When you think of fantastic fictional females, who comes to mind? Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing? Lizzie Bennet from Pride and Prejudice? These—and others I haven’t mentioned—are excellent ladies of storytelling.
That’s why I’m not writing about them. Instead, I’m taking a look at the underrated women of fiction. These are the fictional females that are incredible characters in one way or another, but for some reason get glanced over. I’m not just talking about adult females, either; if there’s anything that reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe taught me, it’s that kids are also awesome.
So sit back and enjoy as I explore the top 12 underrated fictional females.
#12: Lilo from Lilo and Stitch
Of all the kid characters Disney gave us, Lilo is probably the most human and memorable. She’s violent, she’s weird, she’s emotional, and she’s unique. And unlike other characters that others write off as ‘different,’ you can see that Lilo does care about what other people think of her. Lilo may not resemble a role model, but she does resemble a human being.
#11: Éowyn from Lord of the Rings
Yes, it’s almost pointless to talk about the battle between her and the Nazgúl leader since everyone else has already done so. And I put her low on the list because her existence in the books is pretty much the build-up to that one battle. So why do I bring her up at all? Well, it’s because of what she says she fears the most: a cage. I realize that there’s a whole debate about whether or not women should fight, and I won’t go into the argument here. But no matter what you believe, Éowyn ultimately did the right thing, and it’s just not because she was qualified to kill the Nazgúl. Before the fight, Éowyn was assigned to look after Rohan while Theoden went to war, and to take his place if he and her brother didn’t survive the battle. However, she knew that the chances of saving Minas Tirith were slim, and she knew that if Sauron won the war, there wouldn’t be a Rohan to look after. She wanted to do something useful and become another fighter, and that’s exactly what she did.
#10: Miss Piggy from The Muppets
By all outward appearances, Miss Piggy wouldn’t be on the list. She’s self-absorbed, she’s a little too obsessed with her boyfriend, and she’s the least hospitable character in the Muppets. But truth be told, we can’t help but like her for that. Miss Piggy won’t take trash from anyone, not even from the frog she’s in love with. She’s also confident, and anyone who says confidence isn’t admirable is either lying or deluded. As annoying as she would be in real life, she’s still a ton of fun to watch on the pixelated screen.
#9: Gwen Stacy from The Amazing Spiderman
I haven’t read the comics, so I’m mostly going off the movies. Say what you will about the Spiderman remakes, but Gwen Stacy was the best part altogether, especially in comparison to Mary Jane in the original movies. She was so much more interesting, so much more intelligent, so much more ambitious, and so much more helpful. If you won’t watch the remakes for Spiderman, at least watch them for Gwen.
#8: Jane from Tarzan
Of all the damsels in distress that appear in stories, Jane is probably my favorite. Just watching someone who’s used to city life trying to survive in the jungle is hilarious; I could watch the scene with the baboons over and over again and not get tired of it. But when you take that out of the equation, Jane is still a good character. She enjoys studying the animals as well as studying Tarzan himself, and they teach each other more about the different worlds they come from. They were a perfect foil to each other, which created one of Disney’s best romances.
#7: Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas
While Sally’s story revolves mostly around unrequited love, she’s still an interesting character when you take the romance out of the equation. She’s the most realistic of the Halloween Town citizens, and she’s also a character who seeks to be independent. There’s even an entire song where she debates on whether or not to support Jack or to set things right. In the end, she chooses to try and set things right, and she’s rewarded for it. And when that happened, we couldn’t help but cheer for her.
#6: Mary Poppins from Mary Poppins
What I love about Mary Poppins is that she was ultimately the perfect blend for the Banks family. Mr. Banks wanted someone who was strict and instructive, while the kids wanted someone who was kind and cheerful. It turns out, she was both. She played games with the kids and took them on adventures, but at the same time, she was strict, and she didn’t reward bad behavior. I like the scene with the job interview, because right from the start it shows that she’s mysterious and always one step ahead of everyone, whether they realize it or not.
#5: Kim Possible from Kim Possible
It’s no secret that Disney TV is a bushel of bad apples. A lot of the TV series they come up with are cliché, boring, and incapable of taking their audiences seriously. But in every bad bushel, there are a few good apples. In this bushel, Kim Possible was one of them. And a large part of that is due to the main character herself. Not only is she a cheerleader and a straight-A student, not only does she travel all around the world in the blink of an eye to take on criminal masterminds, not only does she take feminine accessories and turn them into weapons, not only does she know various types of kung-fu, not only does she take on every challenge and enjoy it, but she makes it all look easy. If Disney TV ever gave us a role model for younger girls, it was Kim Possible.
#4: Kate Beckett from Castle
There’s no doubt that Beckett made being a cop look awesome…well, more than the cop in the Ferguson case did, anyway. She hunts for murderers, and she won’t let anyone stand in her way. She analyzes information, looks for clues in obscure places, and leaves no stone unturned. She always keeps an open mind, knowing that facts don’t always fit neatly in a box. I also like how she and Castle work as a team, that there are some things only she can do and some things that only he can do.
#3: Violet Baudelaire from Series of Unfortunate Events
The most famous female inventor in literature, Violet Baudelaire was truly extraordinary. Many of her inventions varied from complex to simple, sometimes using a variety of tools, and sometimes only needing to tie up her hair. She knows how to take something seemingly useless and make it handy for a quick getaway.
#2: Johanna Mason from The Hunger Games
Oh…how does one describe Johanna Mason? Imagine if Luna Lovegood dyed her hair brown, cut it short, and became an angry, violent alcoholic after being reaped for the Hunger Games. This woman is the definition of fearless. She openly curses the corrupt government on reality TV, she willingly undresses in public, and she made Caesar Flickerman, the happiest and most excitable television host in fiction, wince on camera. Not to mention that, in a fictional series where the government randomly selects twenty-four children to fight to the death every year, the Catching Fire movie literally censored itself when Johanna Mason dropped the f-bomb. She was unpredictable, funny, and a lot of fun to watch.
#1: Elsa from Frozen
The feedback that Frozen has gotten months after its release is similar to how general audiences reacted to The Little Mermaid when the excitement died out. People either love or hate them, and everyone has something to say about it. Elsa in particular has gotten a lot of flak for insinuating that it’s okay to throw away responsibility for the sake of freedom. Granted, not all of the complaints are unwarranted, and I’ll probably write an editorial about Frozen at another time. But for now I’ll give a few reasons for why I don’t hate Elsa.
- Nintendo gave us Princess Peach and Stephenie Meyer gave us Bella, so what else have you got?
- While this isn’t the first time we’ve had a single Disney Princess (courtesy of Merida), Elsa is the first one for whom being single was virtually never mentioned by any of the other characters. Problematic for a queen? Perhaps, but it’s still welcome.
- Elsa seems like the first three-dimensional princess that Disney gave us; not a heroine, but not necessarily a villain either. The other Disney Princesses are enjoyable (with a few exceptions), but this is the first time Disney tried to make a Disney Princess more than just a character in a fairy tale. It seems like they tried to make her as psychologically complex as a real, flesh-and-blood human being.
And that’s why I name Elsa the most underrated fictional female.
Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “So long.”
Photo sources: http://julipy.deviantart.com/art/100-fictional-female-characters-324144427