feminism The Strongest Female Characters Written by Joss Whedon

Jacob Shelton
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Since Age of Ultron opened in theaters, Joss Whedon has been taking it from all sides about his portrayal of Black Widow as a relationship hungry superwoman who just wants a man to put a ring on it and put a baby inside her. We don’t have any way of knowing whether this was a miscalculation by Whedon, or a mishandling of the property by the marketing people at Marvel, but we do know that Whedon has been an OG feminist writer since 1997 when the first season of Buffy premiered. Being such big Whedonites we knew we had to do something, but countless op-eds have already been penned, and an infinite amount of tweets have been tweeted (so much so that Whedon supposedly quit twitter over the kerfuffle). The only thing left to do is assemble a list of the strongest female characters created by Joss Whedon.

It seems like yesterday that every nerd was sweating bacon grease in excitement over the release of Age of Ultron. But now, thanks to the fervor over the treatment of Black Widow, we can’t even remember the end credits stinger! Despite his misstep, he’s still one of the few filmmakers in Hollywood who tries to write positive female characters. After being such big fans of King Geek Whedon for so long, it was a drag to see him drop the ball on Natasha Romanoff, but instead of moaning like a bunch of babies we decided to celebrate his contributions to the world of science fiction and fantasy with a list of his strongest female characters.
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5 people just voted on Buffy Summers


Buffy Summers is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Strongest Female Characters Written by Joss Whedon
Photo: 20th Century Fox
If anyone needed proof of Joss Whedon's super positive feminist leanings, look no further than Buffy Summers. It can be debated endlessly whether she jumpstarted the '90s girl power movement or if Buffy the Vampire Slayer just had the kismet that comes with great timing, but the landscape of pop culture wouldn't be what it is today without the whip smart, funny, and tough with a capital TUFF Buffy Summers. 

It's rare that such a subversive character has the ability to penetrate the mainstream in the way that Buffy did. But in her seven short years on broadcast television, Buffy inspired millions of men and women to pick up a metaphorical stake and dust the big bad in their life. 

More About

Appears In: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffyverse

Powers/Abilities: Healing factor, Superhuman strength, Prophetic dreaming

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5 people just voted on Faith


Faith is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Strongest Female Characters Written by Joss Whedon
Photo: Freebase/Fair use
It would be too easy to say that Faith is the "Anti-Buffy," although we're sure someone lazier than us has said that about her. While Buffy is the audience analog, a girl thrown in the deep end before she's ready, Faith is a classic example of a female warrior from the onset. Like Wonder Woman (but without all the weird bondage undertones), she's strong, focused, and doesn't necessarily require a team to do her job.

More About

Appears In: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffyverse

Powers/Abilities: Healing factor, Superhuman strength

Also Ranked

#10 on The Top Joss Whedon Characters

#97 on The Most Likeable TV Anti-Heroes

#49 on The Greatest Female TV Characters of All Time

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4 people just voted on Echo


Echo is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Strongest Female Characters Written by Joss Whedon
Photo: Freebase/Fair use
Dollhouse is remembered as a smudge on the otherwise spotless resume for Whedon, but despite its missteps, the series tried to say something about the meaning of identity and individuality while also offering a hero meant to subvert corporate saturation. Echo begins as a tabula rasa who spends a bulk of the season taking on personalities of the week which begin to mold her into a uniquely new being. 

Even after Echo becomes a fully formed hero by the end of the first season, she still has to deal with the moral grey areas that come when one is trying to destroy a global conglomerate from the inside out. 

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Appears In: Dollhouse, Dollhouse Universe

Also Ranked

#20 on The Top Joss Whedon Characters

#72 on The Most Mismatched TV Couples

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3 people just voted on Zoë Washburne


Zoë Washburne is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Strongest Female Characters Written by Joss Whedon
Photo:  uploaded by Jacob Shelton
Born vesselside and handy with a blaster, you don't want to mess with Wash's wife; although, you might actually want to refer to him as "Zoë's husband." A loyal first mate and a tough, deadly fighter, Zoe is the only member of Mal's crew to regularly call him "sir," and she may be the only member aboard his ship that he completely trusts. 

Despite living a dangerous lifestyle, she managed to have a happy marriage until the Alliance showed up and cocked the whole thing up. 

More About

Appears In: Firefly, Serenity, Firefly media franchise

Also Ranked

#13 on The Top Joss Whedon Characters

#46 on Fictional Political Candidates You'd Cast Your Ballot For

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3 people just voted on River Tam


River Tam is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Strongest Female Characters Written by Joss Whedon
Photo:  uploaded by Jacob Shelton
Quite possibly the apotheosis of the Whedonverse, River Tam's journey from child prodigy, to Alliance weapon, to the kung-fu wizard copilot of Mal's ship is fraught with setbacks. When we first meet River, she's a barely legal, raw nerve of a human vegetable that can barely discern between friend or foe. It's only after a subliminal trigger placed in a Fruity Oaty bar commercial sets her off that she learns how deeply ingrained her Alliance programming is. 
 
From those depths she's able to ascend to the godlike River that takes down an entire squadron of Alliance fighters single handedly. Just thinking about her final fight scene in Serenity makes us want to go back and watch the movie all over again. 

More About

Appears In: Firefly, Serenity, Firefly media franchise

Powers/Abilities: Extrasensory perception, Telepathy, Hand-to-hand combat

Also Ranked

#7 on The Top Joss Whedon Characters

#53 on The Greatest Female TV Characters of All Time

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Inara Serra


Inara Serra is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Strongest Female Characters Written by Joss Whedon
Photo:  uploaded by Jacob Shelton
Inara is a Companion, a high-society escort who leased one of Serenity's shuttles for transportation, living space, and workspace. Throughout Firefly she's shown to be not only a courtesan, but a combination mother/psychologist to the crew. And despite the obvious chemistry between her and Mal, she's able to keep it in her pants for business reasons, and because she doesn't need some man to validate her. 

More About

Appears In: Firefly, Serenity, Firefly media franchise

Also Ranked

#17 on The Top Joss Whedon Characters

#55 on Fictional Political Candidates You'd Cast Your Ballot For

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Kaylee Frye


Kaylee Frye is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Strongest Female Characters Written by Joss Whedon
Photo:  uploaded by Jacob Shelton
Being the metaphoric heart of the crew can't be easy. Kaylee essentially lives inside the ship and propels the group to their next adventure, all the while making sure Serenity runs smoothly and that the engines are mended. 

Hired on as a replacement to the previous mechanic (with whom she was sleeping) she immediately showed that she was worth her weight in units when she was able to identify an an engine problem and get Mal's ship off the ground.  
 
Not wanting to be stuck in her role as ship's mechanic, Kaylee longs to be treated as a woman as well as a member of the ship's crew. Throughout the series she verbally battles with Mal over her right to feel feminine despite her masculine position.  

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Appears In: Firefly, Serenity, Firefly media franchise

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#87 on Fictional Sidekicks You'd Most Want as a Best Friend

#6 on The Top Joss Whedon Characters

#28 on The Greatest Geeky Girls on TV

#53 on The Greatest Geeks in TV History

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Willow Rosenberg


Willow Rosenberg is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Strongest Female Characters Written by Joss Whedon
Photo: Freebase/Fair use
What's a Scooby Gang without its resident lesbian/nerd/witch? Nothing! That's what. When Willow was introduced to viewers as a nebbish library assistant, there was no way to know that she would bloom into one of the series' most interesting and well developed characters. As a Wiccan she was able to shed the "double double toil and trouble" look ascribed to most television witches and put a face on witchcraft that even Middle America could love. 

The biggest turn for Willow was when Whedon decided to give her a female love interest. The time and space given to her to go from being a shy scared girl into a confident woman who falls in love with another woman was and sadly still is unique in television.

More About

Appears In: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy the Animated Series, Buffyverse

Powers/Abilities: Flight, Psychokinesis, Telepathy, Healing factor Magic

Also Ranked

#65 on The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

#4 on The Top Joss Whedon Characters

#27 on The Most Mismatched TV Couples

#1 on The Best Fictional Gay Role Models

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