The Greatest Female Characters In Literature, Ranked

Over 23.5K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Greatest Female Characters In Literature, Ranked
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Vote up the most unforgettable women and girls in books, plays, poetry, etc. Please, no comic book characters.

Some of the greatest characters in literature are women and girls, but which ones are the very best? From the evil to the undeniably perfect, the always strong to those who those who never give up, these are the greatest female characters from literature of all genres. This list includes the best female characters of all ages, like the youthful girls Matilda (Matilda) and Hermione Granger (Harry Potter) to the ever-so-adult Evelyn Couch (Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe). We're even ranking immortal female characters, like Galadriel from Lord of the Rings and the goddess Athena you read about in Greek mythology.

Why do female literary characters stay with readers long after they’ve finished reading the novels these characters are featured in? Often, it’s due to the intimacy with which readers have come to know a character. Jane Eyre (and all of her desires and feelings), for example, becomes so real to readers that they feel as if they’ve met and understood this amazing female character. So many people relate to fiery, independent Jo March that her marriage at the end of Little Women feels like a betrayal - something the 2019 film adaptation addresses head-on.

Other times, readers love female characters in literature because of the audacity of their actions. Scarlett O’Hara (Gone with the Wind) was exceedingly bold for a woman of her time, while Madame Defarge (A Tale of Two Cities) is an exemplar of tireless villainy. Some of the most popular female literary characters manage to embody both wholesome and defiant, becoming reflections of the complex nature of women. From inspirational feminist heroes to strong women from fantasy series, the greatest fictional women from literature also make great role models. 

For the wide range of personality traits we find in these great female characters (and the audacious actions they’ve performed), these women have earned their titles as the best female characters in literature. They may be young or old, charming or black-hearted, but they are all memorable. Whether you love them or love to hate them, all the famous fictional heroines are here in this list of the best female characters in literary history. 

Most divisive: Bridget Jones
Ranked by
  • Professor Minerva McGonagall
    Harry Potter Series
    5,667 votes

    Professor Minerva McGonagall is a wise and formidable witch, known for her strict but fair demeanor. Her expertise in Transfiguration is unmatched, and she takes great pride in nurturing young minds at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. With her sharp wit and unwavering loyalty to her students, McGonagall inspires respect and admiration from all who encounter her.

  • Luna Lovegood
    Harry Potter Series
    5,909 votes

    Luna Lovegood is a unique and enchanting character, with her dreamy nature and belief in the extraordinary. Often underestimated by others, Luna's unwavering faith in the magical world and her ability to see beauty in the ordinary make her a captivating presence. Her quirky personality and genuine kindness make Luna a beloved figure among Harry Potter fans.

  • Matilda
    4,443 votes

    Matilda is an extraordinary young girl with an insatiable thirst for knowledge and a remarkable gift for telekinesis. Despite facing neglect from her family and cruelty from her headmistress, Matilda's resilience shines through as she uses her intelligence to outsmart those who underestimate her. Her story serves as a reminder that even the smallest individuals can achieve greatness.

  • Anne Shirley
    Anne of Green Gables
    3,281 votes

    Anne Shirley is a spirited and imaginative character whose vibrant personality captivates readers from the moment they meet her. With her love for literature, zest for life, and unwavering optimism, Anne brings light wherever she goes. Through both trials and triumphs, Anne's journey teaches us the power of imagination, friendship, and staying true to oneself.

  • Lucy Pevensie
    The Chronicles of Narnia
    2,862 votes

    Lucy Pevensie is a brave and adventurous young girl who discovers the magical world of Narnia through an enchanted wardrobe. With her unwavering belief in Aslan and determination to do what is right, Lucy embodies courage in its purest form. Her loyalty to her siblings and unyielding hope make Lucy an endearing character cherished by fans of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia.

  • Molly Weasley
    Harry Potter Series
    3,140 votes

    Molly Weasley is a loving and fiercely protective mother figure, known for her warm heart and exceptional magical abilities. Her unwavering dedication to her family and willingness to fight for what is right make Molly an inspiring character. Whether she is knitting sweaters or battling dark wizards, Molly's strength lies in her love, making her a beloved character among Harry Potter fans.