Sunday, March 6, 2011

100 Most Memorable Female TV Characters

I just came across a list of the 100 most memorable female television characters and since March is Women's History Month, this seemed like a good time to share at least the top 10 with you.

Remember, we're talking about memorable characters rather than the focus being on the actresses who played them.

10) Edith Bunker (All In The Family, played by Jean Stapleton)
The kind, compassionate and non-judgmental counterpart to the brusque, bigoted Archie Bunker.

9) Claire Huxtable (The Cosby Show, played by Phylicia Rashad)
As an attorney she could bring home bacon as well as fry it as mother to five kids. Firm but fair. Tough but sensitive and caring.

8) Veronica Mars (Veronica Mars, played by Kristen Bell)
A former popular high school student, she learned that becoming awesome was the best revenge.

7) Carmela Soprano (The Sopranos, played by Edie Falco)
A complicated but always strong, fiercely loyal, and compelling woman who couldn't resolve her guilt over enjoying the ill-gotten lifestyle provided by her husband.

6) Buffy Summers (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar)
She reliably and efficiently kicked bad guy ass while dealing with the normal ups and downs of teenage and 20-something life.

5) Elaine Benes (Seinfield, played by Julia Louis-Drefus)
She always let her male cohorts know that she was the one to be reckoned with.

4) Peggy Olson (Mad Men, played by Elisabeth Moss)
She refused to be relegated to the background in a sexist, male dominated industry.

3) Lucy Ricardo (I Love Lucy, played by Lucille Ball)
She couldn't stay out of trouble, but it was only because she refused to let anyone keep her in the kitchen and out of the spotlight.

2) Laura Roslin (Battlestar Galactica, played by Mary McDonnell)
A politician thrust into the role of president after most of humanity had been killed, she help lead the survivors to a new home.

1) Mary Richards (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, played by Mary Tyler Moore)
She inspired a whole generation of working girls to go for it all: friendship, love, and a successful career.

There were also several actresses who played more than one character on the top 100 list.

Bea Arthur: She's #45 as Dorothy Zbornak on Golden Girls and also #20 as Maude Findlay on Maude.

Tracy Grandstaff: She's #68 as the voice of Daria Morgendorffer on Bevis And Butt-head and its spinoff Daria.

Valerie Harper: She's #32 as Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spinoff Rhoda.

Katey Sagal: She's #66 as Gemma Teller on Sons Of Anarchy and also #46 as Peg Bundy on Married With Children.

And there were television series that had more than one woman character to make the top 100 list.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: had Willow Rosenberg at #78 played by Alyson Hannigan and also Buffy Summers at #6 played by Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Cagney And Lacey: had Mary Beth Lacey at #39 played by Tyne Daly and also Christine Cagney at #22 played by Sharon Gless.

Cheers: had Carla Tortelli at #48 played by Rhea Perlman and also Diane Chambers at #30 played by Shelley Long.

Golden Girls: definitely the winner with 4 characters in the top 100 list. Blanche Devereaux at #45 played by Rue McClanahan, Dorothy Zbornak at #40 played by Bea Arthur, Sophia Petrillo at #33 played by Estelle Getty, and Rose Nyland at #18 played by Betty White.

I Love Lucy: had Ethel Mertz at #38 played by Vivian Vance and also Lucy Ricardo at #3 played by Lucille Ball.

Laverne And Shirley: had Shirley Feeney at #42 played by Cindy Williams and also Laverne DeFazio at #28 played by Penny Marshall.

Mad Men: had Joan Harris at #16 played by Christina Hendricks and also Peggy Olson at #4 played by Elisabeth Moss.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show: had Rhoda Morgenstern at #32 played by Valerie Harper and also Mary Richards at #1 played by Mary Tyler Moore.

And finally two non-human female characters (in addition to Daria) who made the top 100 list.

Miss Peggy is #26 (The Muppet Show) and was voiced by Frank Oz.
Marge Simpson is #24 (The Simpsons) and was voiced by Julie Kavner

Any women characters in television series that you consider most memorable?


Joyce Henderson said...

I remember them all! :) Isn't Miss Piggy spelled with an 'i'?
Two who didnt make the list but perhaps should have are Barbara Billingsley as the Beaver's mother and Marion Ross as Marion Cunningham on Happy Days.
Thanks for the walk down Memory Lane. Love it!

wlynnchantale said...

I thought about Mrs. Garrett (Charlotte Rae) The Facts of Life and the Piper Halliwell (Holly Marie Combs) Charmed.

Samantha Gentry said...

Joyce: Actually both of those characters made the list of 100. I posted just the top 10 because of the length of the list. Marion Cunningham (Happy Days) was #73 and June Cleaver (Leave It To Beaver) was #49.

Thanks for commenting.

Samantha Gentry said...

wlynnchantale: Mrs. Garret (Facts Of Life) made the list at #75. Unfortunately, your other character from Charmed didn't make the top 100 list. But that's just one list. She might well have made another list.

Thanks for stopping by.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Fun list. I think Mary Richards was a favorite of most people, and also as the lead in the previous series whose title I just forgot. Yeah, too early in the AM for the old brain.

Samantha Gentry said...

Caroline: Yes, the Mary Richards character was definitely a favorite as was Mary Tyler Moore ... "America's sweetheart" type of concept. One of those people where you never heard anything bad about her.

Funny thing I heard...when the premise of the show was being established, Mary wanted the character to be a recently divorced modern (liberated) woman making her way in the world on her own. The network rejected the idea because they were afraid the public would think she had divorded Dick Van Dyke. :)

Thanks for stopping by.