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The Best Female-Led TV Shows

Updated May 24, 2021 38.6k votes 3.0k voters 54.1k views312 items

List RulesOnly shows with a recognizable main character who is a girl or woman.

While society has by no means reached actual equality, in the last few years television viewers have started to see an uptick in female-driven television series hitting the airwaves. These days it's easy for audiences to watch action or serious drama series with female leads in TV shows. This list ranks the best female-led television programs, both past and present - from The Mary Tyler Moore Show to Inside Amy Schumer and everything in between - and needs your votes.

Women in TV have evolved incredibly over the decades. From the dutiful housewives, damsels in distress and temptress femme fatales of yesteryear to the flawed secret agents, high-powered attorneys, and twenty-somethings figuring it all out of today, the age of the Internet has allowed us to gain access to a whole host of women-driven dramas, comedies, and action sci-fi series. This list shows off the best women in TV series, from the black-and-white era to shows that are still airing new episodes today.

Whether you enjoy the period action of Agent Carter, the noir/teen-drama of Veronica Mars, or the biting satirical comedy of Veep, this list has all the top female-led TV shows. So vote up the best female shows below that you think all ladies (and gents!) should know about.

  • 1

    The Golden Girls

    Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan

    PremieredSeptember 14, 1985

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom

    The Golden Girls is an American sitcom, created by Susan Harris, that originally aired on NBC from September 14, 1985, to May 9, 1992. Starring Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle...  more
  • 2

    Veronica Mars

    Kristen Bell, Enrico Colantoni

    PremieredSeptember 22, 2004

    Genres (Tv)Crime drama

    Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial
    Veronica Mars (UPN, 2004) is an American teen noir mystery drama television series created by Rob Thomas. After her best friend (Amanda Seyfried) is murdered, and her father (Enrico Colantoni) is...  more
  • 3

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan

    PremieredMarch 10, 1997

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Horror, Fantasy

    Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer (The WB, 1997) is an American supernatural drama television series created by Joss Whedon, based on the 1992 film. Destined to slay vampires, a young woman (Sarah Michelle...  more
  • 4

    The Handmaid's Tale

    Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes

    PremieredApril 26, 2017

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Science fiction

    The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu, 2017) is an American web television series created by Bruce Miller, based on the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood. In a dystopian future where women are brutally subjugated,...  more
  • 5

    Murder, She Wrote

    Angela Lansbury, William Windom


    Genres (Tv)Crime Fiction, Crime, Procedural drama, Drama, Cozy mystery

    This show is a television mystery series starring Angela Lansbury as mystery writer and amateur detective Jessica Fletcher. The series aired for 12 seasons with 264 episodes from 1984 to 1996 on the...  more
  • 6


    Alyssa Milano, Rose McGowan

    PremieredOctober 7, 1998

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Fantasy, Mystery

    Charmed (The WB, 1998) is an American fantasy drama television series created by Constance M. Burge. Sisters Prue (Shannen Doherty), Piper (Holly Marie Combs) and Phoebe (Alyssa Milano) discover they...  more
  • 7

    I Love Lucy

    Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz

    PremieredOctober 15, 1951

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom

    I Love Lucy is an American television sitcom starring Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley. The black-and-white series originally ran from October 15, 1951, to May 6, 1957, on...  more
  • 8


    Elizabeth Montgomery, Dick York

    PremieredSeptember 17, 1964

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Fantasy

    Bewitched is an American TV situation comedy fantasy which was broadcast for eight seasons on ABC from 1964 to 1972. It was created by Sol Saks under executive director Harry Ackerman, and starred...  more
  • 9

    Gilmore Girls

    Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel

    PremieredOctober 5, 2000

    Genres (Tv)Comedy drama

    Gilmore Girls (The WB, 2000) is an American comedy-drama television series created by Amy Sherman-Palladino. In the fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, a thirty-something single mother...  more
  • 10

    The Nanny

    Fran Drescher, Charles Shaughnessy

    PremieredNovember 3, 1993

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom

    The Nanny (CBS, 1993) is an American television sitcom created by Fran Drescher and Peter Marc Jacobson. Jewish-American Fran Fine, turns up on the doorstep of British Broadway producer Maxwell...  more
  • 11

    Parks and Recreation

    Amy Poehler, Aziz Ansari

    PremieredApril 9, 2009

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom

    Parks and Recreation (NBC, 2009) is an American television sitcom created by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur. The series follows Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), a perky mid-level bureaucrat, and her parks...  more
  • 12

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Viola Davis, Billy Brown


    Genres (Tv)Drama, Crime, Legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder (ABC, 2014) is an American legal thriller television series created by Peter Nowalk. A law professor (Viola Davis) at a prestigious Philadelphia university and five of her...  more
  • 13

    Once Upon a Time

    Lana Parrilla, Robert Carlyle

    PremieredOctober 23, 2011

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Fantasy

    Once Upon a Time is an American fairy tale drama series that premiered on October 23, 2011, on ABC. The show takes place in the fictional seaside town of Storybrooke, Maine, whose residents are...  more
  • 14

    30 Rock

    Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin

    PremieredOctober 11, 2006

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom

    30 Rock (NBC, 2006) is an American satirical sitcom television series created by Tina Fey. Head writer Liz Lemon (Fey) tries to run her sketch comedy show, while dealing with an arrogant boss (Alec...  more
  • 15

    Jessica Jones

    Krysten Ritter, Eka Darville

    PremieredNovember 20, 2015

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Action, Science fiction

    Jessica Jones (Netflix, 2015) is an American web television series created by Melissa Rosenberg, based on the Marvel Comics character. Following the tragic end of her brief superhero career, Jessica...  more
  • 16

    The 100

    Eliza Taylor, Paige Turco

    PremieredMarch 19, 2014

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Science fiction, Adventure

    The 100 (The CW, 2014) is an American post-apocalyptic science fiction drama television series developed by Jason Rothenberg, loosely based on the book by Kass Morgan. 97 years after a nuclear...  more
  • 17

    Agent Carter

    Hayley Atwell, James D'Arcy

    PremieredJanuary 6, 2015

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Action, Science fiction, Adventure

    Marvel's Agent Carter, or simply Agent Carter, is an American television series created for ABC. The series features the Marvel Comics character Peggy Carter, with Hayley Atwell reprising her role...  more
  • 18

    Xena: Warrior Princess

    Lucy Lawless, Renee O'Connor

    PremieredSeptember 4, 1995

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Action, Adventure, Fantasy

    Xena: Warrior Princess is an American/New Zealand television series filmed in New Zealand. The series aired in syndication from September 4, 1995, until June 18, 2001. The series was created in 1995...  more
  • 19

    Sabrina the Teenage Witch

    Melissa Joan Hart, Caroline Rhea

    PremieredSeptember 20, 1996

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Fantasy

    Sabrina the Teenage Witch (ABC, 1996) is an American sitcom created by Nell Scovell and is based on the Archie comic book series of the same name. The show chronicles the adventures of Sabrina...  more
  • 20

    Sex and the City

    Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall

    PremieredJune 7, 1998

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom

    Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial
    Sex and the City (HBO, 1998) is an American romantic comedy-drama television series created by Darren Star, based on the 1997 book by Candace Bushnell. Four female New Yorkers (Sarah Jessica Parker,...  more
  • 21


    Jennifer Garner, Victor Garber

    PremieredSeptember 30, 2001

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Action, Adventure, Thriller

    Alias (ABC, 2001) is an American action thriller television series created by J. J. Abrams. CIA double agent Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) poses as an operative for a worldwide criminal and...  more
  • 22


    Eliza Dushku, Tahmoh Penikett

    PremieredFebruary 13, 2009

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Action, Science fiction

    Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial
    Dollhouse is an American science fiction television series created by writer and director Joss Whedon under Mutant Enemy Productions. It premiered on February 13, 2009, on the Fox network and was...  more
  • 23

    Wonder Woman

    Lynda Carter, Lyle Waggoner

    PremieredApril 21, 1976

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Fantasy, Action, Adventure

    Wonder Woman is an American television series based on the DC Comics comic book superheroine of the same name. Starring Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince and Lyle Waggoner as Steve Trevor Sr....  more
  • 24

    Orange Is the New Black

    Taylor Schilling, Natasha Lyonne

    PremieredJuly 11, 2013

    Genres (Tv)Comedy drama

    Orange Is the New Black (Netflix, 2013) is an American comedy-drama web television series created by Jenji Kohan, based on the memoir by Piper Kerman. Convicted of a decade old crime of transporting...  more
  • 25


    Emily VanCamp, Madeleine Stowe

    PremieredSeptember 21, 2011

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Mystery, Thriller

    Revenge (ABC, 2011) is an American drama television series created by Mike Kelley, inspired by the Alexandre Dumas novel The Count of Monte Cristo. An emotionally troubled young woman (Emily VanCamp)...  more