My Own Top Ten Sci-Fi Heroines

The other day, Husband showed me an article with the latest list of “top ten women in sci-fi and fantasy,” and it was a joke. First of all, there are plenty of great women in both those genres; and it’s not fair to judge the sci-fi ladies right next to the fantasy ladies. Do those two lists separately, it’s only fair. Next, who thinks that Katness Everdeen is worth anything close to top ten?

Yeah, no kidding. So just to clarify, the list below is purely my own opinion, and is not representative of any . . . wait. Never mind, you people know what an opinion means, and I don’t have to post a trigger warning for you.

Oh, and one other disclaimer: no Marvel or DC Comics ladies are present below. I would consider “comic book heroines” a separate genre from sci-fi (no offense to them, of course).

So here are my own Top Ten Sci-Fi Heronies:

10. Starbuck:

Now, I don’t like the Battlestar Galactica remake, but I did watch some of it. I much prefer original Starbuck (Dirk Benedict) to remake Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff), but even I can’t deny that remake Starbuck is a complete sci-fi badass, and Katee Sackhoff does it very convincingly.

9. Cara Dune:

Definite sci-fi badass, and the actress is a real-life badass, just to top it all off. Cara Dune was my favorite character in the Mandalorian, and I was really mad when she got fired from the show. But for the little time she was there, she was great in that part. Tough as nails, without trying to substitute “bitch” for “tough,” the way a lot of modern characters try to do it (and fail).

8. Princess Leia Organa-Solo

She’s even more of a badass in the books (like the Thrawn trilogy by Timothy Zahn). She can fight, she can negotiate, and she can be super-mom, all at once. Plus, anybody who volunteers to put up with Han Solo’s shenanigans for life gets extra badass points.

7. Sarah Connor:

The 1980s waitress who turned into a badass. She held her own in the first Terminator, and then graduated to full tough girl in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, and was convincing in both parts.

6. River Tam

She’s not just the “crazy little sister.” Anybody who has to overcome being that insane, and then pulls it off to fight a full horde of Reavers, is definitely a sci-fi badass.

5. Major Kira Nerys

Anybody who stands up to Gul Dukat on a regular basis gets major points for that. Kira isn’t much of a negotiator (she’s more of the “shoot it first and ask questions later” type), but she does have her moments, especially when Odo is around (or Sisko, making sure she behaves).

I put Kira in here instead of Janeway, because I don’t really like Star Trek Voyager all that much, so what little I’ve seen of Janeway, she’s more of a negotiator than a badass (which doesn’t make her a bad character; it just means that I can’t speak to her badass qualities from personal experience).

4. Lady Jessica

Of course, she’s much more of a great character in the book than in any of the screen adaptations, but this one is my favorite of her (the movie itself sucks, of course, but Francesca Annis is PERFECT as Lady Jessica). Jessica is more the quiet sort of badass: she can kill you with a single word if she has to, but she’s still the perfect lady. Her bravery is in her love for Duke Leto and her son, Paul, but anybody who survives Arrakis gets badass credit.

3. Commander Susan Ivanova

Let’s let her own lines tell us how badass she is:

“Who am I? I am Susan Ivanova, Commander. Daughter of Andre and Sophie Ivanov. I am the right hand of vengeance and the boot that is going to kick your sorry ass all the way back to Earth, sweetheart! I am death incarnate, and the last living thing that you will ever see. God sent me.”


2. Captain Honor Harrington

This was hard for me. The top three are all ladies I love, and it was difficult to assign a spot to all of them. But Honor Harrington comes in at number two. She’s a great captain, genius strategist and tactician, and badass enough to kill you and all your friends if you try to assassinate Protector Benjamin in her presence. She can kill you with a sword, a gun, or a full broadside, and if none of that works, Nimitz will kill you for her.

1.Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley

Of course, the top slot goes to that archetype of all female sci-fi badasses, Ripley. She comes in at number one instead of Honor Harrington because, unlike Honor, she wasn’t trained to be a badass. She just had to become one in a very short time. It was either that, or let the xenomorph eat her and Jonesy. Then, in the sequel, she graduates to full badass. She’s the one who whips the Colonial Marines into shape and gets them back on track (natural leader), and then goes alone into the xenomorph hive to rescue Newt.

Then, just to top it all off, she goes one-on-one with the Xenomorph Queen, and wins.

What more can be said?

So, that’s my list of sci-fi heroines. I limited myself to my top ten, not top twenty-five, because otherwise this would have taken all day, but if you have any more (especially from books instead of movies) that you think should be included, please comment, and stay tuned for the fantasy badass ladies list next time.


  1. “Oh, and one other disclaimer: no Marvel or DC Comics ladies are present below. I would consider “comic book heroines” a separate genre from sci-fi (no offense to them, of course).”

    There is no “agree” button and I only get one like, so I’m saying here: THANK YOU!!!!!! THIS!!! Superheroes and heroines get their own vote posts. Darn it, now you have me thinking of making lists like this, as a lot of the ones written by established publications are miss the point so badly, I have to wonder if they were even aiming at it….


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