A strong female character is a character with a three dimensional, flawed personality who happens to be a woman or a girl.
“Strong” in is case is not an adjective describing the character’s physical, emotional, or intellectual strength. It is an adjective describing the potency and depth of the character in the narrative, not in a moral sense. A strong character is complicated, flawed, compelling. “Strong” here is just a synonym here for “great.”
The strong female character doesn't have to kick butt, be fully grown, or be human. She just has to be well thought up.
For this trope, the female character has to be a protagonist and in a work that is not in the Girl-Show Ghetto
Can be and Action Girl
, but doesn't have to be. Contrast Smurfette Principle
, Damsel in Distress
, Faux Action Girl
, and Shallow Love Interest