2017 was not a great year for many of us. Sometimes escaping into fiction was the best way for queer geeks to find anything resembling comfort. Thankfully, we had many great geek things to lose ourselves in, to avoid the everyday hellscape that was the daily news. Shows like Stranger Things and movies like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 helped to keep us sane.
In a year that felt like the 8th ring of hell, it’s important to remember the few good things we had—and to put them into a Year End list. So here we are, the 18 best Strong Female Characters of 2017. The rules were simple, the character had to appear in either TV or a movie (because if I tried to rank everyone from every comic book this list would be never-ending) and the ranking was based on their appearances in 2017—not their previous appearances. Minor spoilers ahead (but don't worry, none for The Last Jedi).
Seeya never, 2017—you were a shitty fucking year! And hello 2018—you better be less cruel to us, OK?
18: Trini Kwan (Yellow Ranger), Power Rangers
An angsty loner teen, who discovers an alien ship and becomes a superhero. Sign me the fuck up. This new Power Rangers movie was absolutely Degrassi meets X-Men and I was very into it. While Elizabeth Banks was spending the entire movie winning this season's Drag Race Super Villains All-Stars, Trini stuck out as one of the more dynamic of the new Rangers.
17: The Clones, Orphan Black
This year we had to say goodbye to our beloved clones Sarah, Helena, Allison, and co. It'd feel like cheating to not give these women all the same spot, since they’re all portrayed by the ridiculously talented Tatiana Maslany (who once wore Geeks OUT's Strong Female Character T-shirt onstage).
16: Claire Temple, Iron Fist, The Defenders
Claire has been the savior of a lot of the MCU series on Netflix, but especially of Iron Fist—the show picked up immensely once she showed up, which is mostly due to how wonderful Rosario Dawson is to watch onscreen. She feels like the realest character in all of the superhero shows because she keeps these superpowered people grounded.
15: Rose Tico, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
No spoilers, but Rose makes for a great addition to the Star Wars universe. She's smart and passionate and a joy to watch. Hopefully we get more of her in the next film.
14: Gamora, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
While this sequel may not have been as popular as the first, I honestly think it did what few MCU movie sequels do well—it developed the characters even more than the first while still keeping the action tight, the soundtrack great, and the funny moments funny. Gamora ends the movie by hugging her formerly evil stepsister Nebula. This movie shows Gamora’s more emotional side but doesn’t sacrifice any of her badass-ness while doing so.
13: Kara Zor-El, Supergirl
Kara Danvers is almost too precious for me—but also, she can punch anyone through a wall. She's recently been found fighting Nazis and eh, but she's still basically the strongest hero in the DC Arrowverse.
12: Melinda May, Agents of SHIELD
Melinda May has continually been the shining star of nearly every season of this show. She's legit the best fighter on the show, and also the character most likely to be seen rolling her eyes at her teammates. The "Framework" storyline gave her plenty of badass moments and this newest season promises to deliver on that too (I mean, her opening scene was her pulling a pipe out of her own leg).
11: Michael Burnham, Star Trek: Discovery
A human (played by Sonequa Martin-Green and Arista Arhin) raised on Vulcan by Spock's parents and the first human to attend the Vulcan Learning Center which was later attacked by terrorists. She later became the first officer ever convicted of mutiny in the history of Starfleet, she's a revolutionary addition to the Star Trek series and revolutionary within the fictional Star Trek universe itself.
10: Jessica Jones, The Defenders
OK, so maybe she didn't get to shine as much as we all would've liked, but she most definitely stole the show on The Defenders. She rolled her eyes through the entire thing and also got to throw a god damned car at Elektra to stop her from kicking everyone's ass.
9: Laura, Logan
The tiniest badass on this list. Logan was a good movie, although not my favorite way to send off the Jackman-era of X-Men movies. But the thing it did really well was Laura. She was sassy with barely saying a word and could take on all the evil men this movie threw at her. If it weren't for her, I wouldn't have loved this movie as much as I did.
8: Joyce Byers, Stranger Things
To say Joyce deserves mom of the year is a fucking understatement. In season 2, she endured her son being possessed by the Upside Down, a government conspiracy to cover up her son's previous kidnapping, her boyfriend being mauled right in front of her by demogorgons, and lots of other awful supernatural shit.
7: Diane, Twin Peaks: The Return
Very few shows can add a new character into an already well-established universe and make you care about that character—but the combo of David Lynch and Laura Dern totally pulled that off with Diane. She was the character Agent Cooper was always speaking to in the original Twin Peaks series, but in the revival we finally got to meet Diane in the flesh (although most of the time we spent with Diane was actually Diane's evil tulpa, but let's not get into that). Diane spent most of the series telling everyone around her to fuck off and that's exactly the kind of character we needed in 2017.
6: Valkyrie, Thor: Ragnarok
While I wasn't as sweet on Ragnarok as the rest of the internet, Valkyrie was pretty badass—and a standout new addition to the MCU. She was the last surviving member of the Valkyries and played perfectly by the super wonderful Tessa Thompson. She gave me Jessica Jones vibes and I look forward to seeing her in more MCU movies. And, hopefully, she can be explicitly queer in future appearances, rather than us knowing she's queer because of a cut scene. * Glares at camera *
5: Rey, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Rey hasn't changed much since The Force Awakens, but that doesn't make her any less awesome. She's the strength and the brains of the new characters (I mean, I love Poe and Finn, but ya know—these men, AMIRITE). She channels the Force like the Jedi warrior she is and pisses off stupid sexist Star Wars fanboys at the same time. A win win, IMO.
4: Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Again, no spoilers—so I barely have anything to say but I'll say Laura Dern makes this list twice (three times if you count honorable mentions). The Dern-aissance is real. And Holdo has, arguably, one of the best scenes in the god damned movie. She makes a move that nearly stops the entire film dead but in the best possible way.
3: Lorraine Broughton, Atomic Blonde
The fact that this movie didn't do better is offensive. Charlize's fight scenes are absolutely bonkers. The fight choereo is so over the top, but also realistic. Everything (but the weirdly convoluted ending) was so well done in this movie: the cinematography, the fight scenes, the acting, the settings, the neon lights, the soundtrack, and, hey, we also got an openly queer action hero. I wanna have sex in the world of this movie.
2: General Leia Organa, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
It's insane to think how much Leia has evolved as a character—and how we've watched Carrie Fisher grow with the character. I won'’t spoil anything for The Last Jedi but see the god damned movie, OK? She has a scene early on that is absolutely bananas insane and beautiful to watch. A great send-off to a great character and to the great actor herself. Leia has never not been a confident, take-no-shit kind of character and it's truly wonderful to watch an older actress portray such a strong confident character, even after so much loss and a seemingly never-ending war.
1: Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman, Justice League
The Wonder Woman movie seemed to happen by accident. It's so weird to think how bad almost every DCU movie has been—and yet we got this fantastic movie with a well-developed female lead. The No Man's Land scene was one of the best scenes of 2017. Wonder Woman is played perfectly with such innocence, strength, and compassion. She's the hero we absolutely needed in 2017. She also was one of the more interesting characters in the messy as fuck Justice League (but Flash stole the show, TBF). Wonder Woman deserves approx 86 more sequels.
Honorable Non-Geek Mentions:
All of the women in Big Little Lies (THAT ENDING), Abbi and Ilana from Broad City (their friendship is truly magic), and Tracey Gordon from Chewing Gum (she's independent and isn’t afraid—OK she's a little afraid—to explore her sexuality).