It's not a good piece of art or literature without a strong female character. Below, we take a look at some of the most inspiring fictional women locally and internationally, and how they've conquered being strong and independent in their own ways.
1. Annabeth Chase from Percy Jackson and the Olympians
This daughter of Athena knows no bounds when it comes to bravery—even at the risk of her own life. A natural leader, Annabeth is a master strategist and a courageous fighter with a daring yet endearing heart and personality. It’s impossible not to be bewitched by her charm and wits, which is why we don’t blame Percy and the rest of the world for falling in love with her.
2. Shuri from Black Panther
We all know King T’Challa’s little sister, but let’s not box her into her royal status as princess—Shuri has one of the most brilliant minds in the world as an inventor and innovator responsible for most of Wakanda’s technology. Aside from her genius-level creations, Shuri also has a humorous and fun-loving personality, which explains her easy relationship with her brother and family.
3. Choi Ae-ra from Fight for My Way
Fiercely ambitious with her dreams, Ae-ra shines all by herself rather than shining next to a man. Despite everything life fires at her, her strong-willed personality and goal-oriented mindset keeps her going. She’s confident, she stepped up as the first female Korean MMA announcer, and she’s not afraid to show her emotions and cry (or punch a bully).
“Forget that Cinderella brat who sold a lie to girls. The barefoot general Zhang Fei of the Three Kingdoms who commanded thousands is much sexier.”
4. Bobbie Salazar from Four Sisters and a Wedding
There’s no one in this country who hasn’t heard of this iconic drama-comedy Filipino film surrounding the Salazar siblings. In the face of all the tears and laughter from watching this movie, however, Bobbie shines as an empowered and inspiring woman with a drive for excellence in everything she does. Often misunderstood and seen as cold or harsh, Bobbie actually has a high sense of responsibility and an admiring urge to protect and care for her family.
5. Jules from Euphoria
Watching Euphoria without becoming obsessed with Jules Vaughn is downright impossible. A teenage girl who started her transition at 13, Jules is in constant search for affirmation and love, one that she eventually finds in a healthier intimacy than what she’s used to with Rue. As one of the most compelling characters in the show, Jules is warm-hearted and extremely loyal to her friends, loved by many in and out of the show—and rightly so.
6. Cristina Yang from Grey’s Anatomy
One-half of the ‘Twisted Sisters,’ the indomitable Dr. Cristina Yang is fiercely competitive, always at the top of her game, and doesn’t strive for anything less than excellent. With a remarkable academic record, Cristina always has a wild desire to learn and to be great, to continuously use her gifts and practice them, which brought her recognition as a brilliant cardiothoracic surgeon. She’s firm with what she wants and needs, even at gunpoint and through the amount of traumatic experiences she experienced. Watching her struggle, heal, and overcome them is why she’s a fan-favorite.
7. Yoon Se-ri from Crash Landing On You
South Korean chaebol heiress Yoon Se-ri is a character who has it all: looks, wealth, sense of fashion, skills. Though born from a place of privilege, Se-ri builds her own international fashion and beauty company from the ground through her own efforts. Se-ri’s independence, drive, the discipline she acquired from pursuing her own path, and her high sense of responsibility and commitment to her work and to the people who work for her are enough reasons why her character should be given credit as much as the star-crossed lovers plot of the drama. She’s charming, funny, quick on her feet, persevering, and loyal to her friends. We’re so glad she found her happy ending in Switzerland!
8. Maria from Maria
Deadly assassin Maria is out for blood. After leaving her life of violence employed to a drug cartel, Maria devotes herself as a loving wife and a mother—until her family is killed, and she reverts back to her previous life to get revenge. It’s not just her physical skills that get us rooting and cheering for this action character, although they are spectacular in choreography and Cristine Reyes’s practice and effort—Maria’s strength is in her mental fortitude and deadly determination. Filipinas can also kick it—literally—on screen.
9. Olivia Pope from Scandal
What is Scandal, if not Olivia Pope entering a room and rendering everyone speechless? Olivia is a brilliant yet ruthless icon on screen who more than earned her seat at the table; she’s not just glamorous, or eloquent, or confident, or firm, she’s pragmatic and cold, sure of herself as a woman, and unafraid to say: “I am very good at what I do. I am better at it than anyone else. And that is not arrogance, that is a fact.” Phew. You go, girl.
10. Callie Torres from Grey’s Anatomy
Beautiful and confident orthopedic surgeon Dr. Torres is unapologetically herself. She smashes bones and puts them back together for a living—and enjoys it! Callie is strong-willed, passionate, loyal, and easy to love as a daughter, a friend, a wife, and a mother. She continuously pushes the boundaries of science and medicine with a love for learning and research, and she’s not afraid to say what she thinks and show what she’s got.
11. Kim Mi-so from What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?
Nine years at her job and Secretary Kim keeps her boss on his toes at work. Kim Mi-so, the youngest sister who’s also the breadwinner of her family, is memorable and charismatic in her own rights—she didn’t try to stand out, but did her job to the best of her ability, and her determination to make her own way in life is definitely admirable. Naturally friendly and easygoing, Secretary Kim didn’t become dazed after falling in love with her boss—instead, she knew to say no when she needed to, stayed grounded to herself and her morals, principles, and upbringing, and remained such a loveable and independent character throughout this drama.
12. Korra from The Legend of Korra
Headstrong and rebellious, this avatar wants the best for her family and friends while also struggling with her sense of responsibility and desire for freedom. Over the course of the show, Korra becomes more mature, more compassionate, and comes to understand and accept her spiritual side and her role as the Avatar. Like real people, Korra has a weakness, and hers is in her hot-headedness and her impulse to do things rashly, but that doesn’t make her any less reliable. Korra is actually sweet and warm-hearted, and she’s brave and unyielding.
13. Villanelle from Killing Eve
Where there is a hero, there is a villain—and fascinatingly, Villanelle fits that role as a psychopathic international assassin who really only cares about beautiful women and high fashion. Knowing no limits to her seduction, Villanelle is irresistible to admire—she’s ruthless with a quick wit and dedication to her craft. She’s so fun to watch, and she breaks subvert expectations about what female villains are allowed to be and do.
14. Lea from Bata, Bata...Paano ka Ginawa?
This classic 1998 Filipino film by Chito Roño has Vilma Santos as Lea, a women's rights advocate, defying the norms about women at this time. Having two children from different men, Lea is unconventional in her methods in raising her kids—and the fathers think so, too. Eventually, they propose to take them away from her. What's admirable about this character, however, is not only her liberal outlook and her firmness in speaking her mind, but also in fighting for her right to keep her children, she realizes that, with her unparalleled love and affection as a mother, giving them the freedom to decide for themselves is a fight in itself, too.
15. Beth Harmon from The Queen's Gambit
It's impossible not to hold our breaths whenever Beth is playing chess—and hope for her to win. Her genius and remarkable play and strategy, however, as well as her remarkable achievements of beating opponents twice her age are not all there is to this character. This troubled chess prodigy resorts to alcohol and pills to outrun her childhood trauma, but her confidence in her skin and skills are astounding—as well as her prowess for seduction. She's completely in charge of herself, both in tournament and out of it, and the series gives her a role that is with desire, ambition, and feelings—all without compromise. Beth also wants to be celebrated for her mastery and competence in the board game—and not because she's a woman.
"I would say it is much easier to play chess without the burden of an Adam's apple."