6 Female Leads That Inspire Badassery


Being a badass doesn’t necessarily mean you’re fighting crime, shooting bad guys, and being trained as an assassin. There are different types of badassery, and these 6 female leads show gumption in their own unique way. There are many wonderful examples of inspiring woman in movies, so please leave your comments below on who you think should be on this list. I’d love to hear about the female movie characters that inspire you!

1. Erin Brockovich in Erin Brockovich (2000)

Julia Roberts stars in this movie as a struggling single mother of three. She fights against a big company, PG&E, who contaminated the groundwater and in effect caused many citizens to get extremely sick. Erin was very much underestimated when she was first employed by her boss Ed. But throughout the movie, we see how hard Erin was willing to fight for these poor sick people abused by PG&E. Her attitude, work ethic, and intelligence made her a success story, especially considering the fact that she had no prior education. Erin is a great character because she’s flawed – she’s a real woman. The story of Erin Brockovich is very inspiring and will motivate you to dedicate your time, energy and resources for things that you’re passionate about.


Favourite attribute: Determination

2. Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

The Silence of the Lambs features Jodie Foster as an FBI pre-grad pulled out of her training to interview a twisted serial killer in order to find another serial killer, “Buffalo Bill”. Clarice is a great character to look up to because she’s extremely intelligent; she was asked to take on Hannibal Lector before she even graduated. Only a brilliant, wise, and quick-witted person could attempt to successfully interview the former psychiatrist turned cannibalistic serial killer – that’s not a job for the faint of heart! She can also stand her ground in a male-dominated field, and never lets others intimidate her. I love the scene where Clarice steps into an elevator full of FBI members much taller than her, but not giving any heed towards it.  One thing I admire Clarice for is her vulnerability and sensitivity towards the victims. She’s a woman with strengths and weaknesses, but most definitely a badass!


Favourite attribute: Intelligence

3. Jo March in Little Women (1994)

This movie is based on the classic book written by Louisa May Alcott in 1869. Jo, played by Winona Ryder, is arguably one of the best-written characters in literature. At a time when women were expected to stay at home and become wives and mothers, Jo fought back. She had an inner spirit and creativity that couldn’t be tamed, and her character represented freedom from the norm. Jo, like many other young girls, was always told to be good and lady-like. But Jo didn’t care what other people thought – she just wanted to write about the adventures she created in her own mind. Again, Jo is most definitely flawed. Her temper often got her into trouble, and she recklessly spoke her mind even if it hurt others. But her independence, creativity, outspokenness, and loving heart is what makes her a great role model.


Favourite attribute: Independence

4. Ellen Ripley in Aliens (1986)

I named my first car after Ripley, simply because her name epitomizes badassery. One pet peeve of mine is when directors portray strong women as hard and gruff and willing to cut your throat out without giving it a second thought. But one of my favourite things about the character Ellen Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, is that she still has a soft touch. She has that deep maternal love, and even protects Jonesy the cat. She’s not just a one-note character – she has many different layers to her. She’s also willing to stick to her guns and speak her mind. She isn’t afraid to tell others when they’re in the wrong and express what she thinks should be done.


Favourite attribute: Outspokenness

5. Jess Bhamra in Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

Jess, played by Parminder Nagra, constantly dabbles the line between pleasing her parents and following her dreams. She struggles with choosing whether to follow her traditional parents’ wishes or pursuing her football career. Although it’s an old commonplace idea, many mothers don’t appreciate their daughters participating in what is seen as ‘manly’ sports. But Jess is willing to pursue her dreams above social norms, and pressures from her family. Jess again is a character with flaws because there are many times that she lies to her family, but you see her gain much-needed confidence and courage as the movie goes on. She finally has the boldness needed to come clean to her family about her dreams and desires and chooses her potential career over a traditional but comfortable life. Jess will make you want to pursue your dreams to the full, despite any opposition you may receive from your family or friends.


Favourite attribute: Courage

6. Aibileen Clark in The Help (2011)

Aibileen, played by Viola Davis, is a wonderfully written character. The Help is chock-full of outstanding female leads, but there’s something about Aibileen’s soul that I can’t help but love. She’s got a kind heart, and despite the terrible pain she went through, including the death of her son, she’s still so loving to others. Who can forget the words, “you is kind, you is smart, you is important“? Aibileen grows stronger and with the help of her friend Milly, she becomes the writer she always thought her son would become. Through her writing, she gains courage. She understands the dangers that could result from the book being written, but also realizes she’s much more than just a maid, and writing gives her a new identity. Aibileen proves that no matter what terrible circumstances a person has gone through, there is always room for showing love and courage.


Favourite attribute: Loving

But this is just my opinion! I’d love to hear from you. Who are some of your favourite female leads that inspire you? Let me know in the comments below.



3 thoughts on “6 Female Leads That Inspire Badassery

  1. Pingback: Wonder Woman Doesn’t Deserve the Praise It’s Getting – Nerd This Up

  2. Tami

    I really love this list. When you listed Ripley and Clarice I was pleased but I was unbelievably pleased when you added in Jess. Deffo a character that deserves more spotlight


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