The characters that we see on screen, play in video games or read in books have a large impact on the way we see ourselves. Representing fierce femmes and strong women in media can impact the ways in which growing generations see their roles in the world and how they interact with others. If you see Wonder Woman sticking up for peace, love and justice, then might be inspired to do so as well. On the flip side of that, continually portraying women as ‘Damsels in Distress’ illustrates (well lazy story telling) that men are the ones who get to be strong. Whether emotionally or physically (or both!), women and femmes are strong as hell. We need to tell more stories that show that. We need to have more narratives where women save themselves. Let’s move on from the trope ‘Damsel in Distress’ and look at some badass women who don’t need to be saved.

 Diana Prince

Either in comics or on the big screen, Princess Diana of Themyscira is not a damsel in distress. With her Amazonian training and god like strength, Diana can go head to head with some of the most feared bad guys. She continuously saves the world and has even saved her fellow Justice League members from danger. Her fight for peace, love and justice makes her an emotionally and physically strong superhero.

Rosa Diaz

Rosa is easily the toughest character in Brooklyn 99. Her collection of weapons and inner rage makes the squad fear her a little bit. All she needs to do is give Scully or Hitchcock a look and they get out of her way. Past her badassery, Rosa is more than capable of taking care of herself. She has successfully led task forces, rescued her friends and captured a lot of criminals. Even if Rosa did need help, we all know that it would take her a lot to ask for it.

Valkyrie (Brunnhilde)

Brunnhilde, known as Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnorok, is an elite warrior turned bounty hunter, and she will take none of your shit. Her Asguardian strength and warrior training makes her a force to be reckoned with. Thor: Ragnorok also explored her emotional strength; over the course of the film Brunnhilde worked on overcoming the trauma of loosing her fellow Valkyries in the battle against Hela. When Loki makes her revisit the battle, it takes her off guard but she still manages to kick his ass. Tessa Thompson should also be recognized as a hero herself, for fighting for Valkyrie’s bisexual representation.


Whether its saying to Finn to “let go of my hand” or escaping from her cell on Starkiller base, Rey proved in Force Awakens that she is more than capable of saving herself. She can fly the Millennium Falcon like Han Solo, and wield a light sabre like Luke Skywalker. In one film, Rey has proved that she is as gifted (or more so) as her male counterparts. The years of being alone on Jakku made Rey self reliant, resourceful and tough when she needs to be. Most importantly, strong with the force she is.

 Lara Croft

Our Indiana Jones like video game and big screen heroine, Lara Croft has a complicated history. Some might say her character is sexist, others might say she’s a feminist icon. Her appearance has changed over time (leaving the short shorts behind to welcome jeans), but her bravery and quick thinking has stayed. Lara has saved herself and the world countless times. She can survive in the wilderness, use so many different weapons and solve complex puzzles. Pretty much, she’s a certified badass. Here’s hoping in the upcoming movie we can see more of Lara’s strong independence.

 I could literally write this list forever but these are just some! Other characters that come time mind are America Chavez, Princess Leia, Xena Warrior Princess and Kamala Khan. Let me know which ones you think should be on this list in the comments!

Caitlynn Fairbarns
Caitlynn is a freelance photographer and writer based in Toronto. She runs a collaborative and submission-based blog called Fake Geek Girls Like Us, which focuses on female representation within geek culture. She works for a variety of freelance clients and frequently organizes events around Toronto.

Leave a Reply