Created By: EdnaWalker on October 31, 2012 Last Edited By: EdnaWalker on November 8, 2013
Nuked

Prominent Feisty Female Character

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Trope
In many animated films in the 21st century, it’s likely that a token strong female character who reviewers will call “feisty" will show up.

They are often the best friend of the main male star of a film. Sometimes, they may even have some commentary about sexism or male domination. She may be brave, smart, or strong, but her part in the narrative is devoted to helping the male character on his quest.

They are often the Tsundere and an UnkemptBeauty Tomboy.

This trope is essentially a more modern take on the Smurfette Principle in that the Token Girl is feisty or an Action Girl as opposed to being The Chick or playing any other traditionally submissive gender role. Unlike the Smurfette Principle, there may be two or three of her, but everyone else in the cast is still male. Despite the lip service of being a supposedly feminist 'girl power' character, the Feisty Female is almost always used as the hot love interest for a dorky male hero, seldom has her own character arc, and is occasionally stripped of her badass credentials near the end of the film to make the male lead look better.

The Unfortunate Implication comes from works, usually those from Disney/Pixar or Dreamworks, that have so magnanimously thrown in a feisty female character. the implication is that because the work has added a feisty female character, that we’re no longer supposed to care that almost all of the other characters in the film are male, including the star who the movie is often titled for. The crowd scenes in the film are also made up of mostly males. The movie may not even pass The Bechdel Test .

Minority in the large, broad sociological lens refers to a part of the population that is treated as one by society, even if it is not a minority per se. Thus, women, despite being slightly over half the population, are treated as a minority.

Related to Smurfette Principle, Men Are Generic, Women Are Special, Men Act, Women Are. Can be part of Two Girls to a Team. Compare and contrast Smurfette Breakout. Compare Ms. Fanservice.


Examples:

Discussions

Film
  • Astrid in How to Train Your Dragon a strong female character who is best friends with the male lead character Hiccup.
  • Jessie from ToyStory 2 is a strong female character who is best friends with the male lead characters, Woody and Buzz and is part of a mostly male crowd.
  • Colette from Ratatouille is the only female chef in the restaurant and talks about how sexist or male dominated the culinary profession is.
  • Chel from The Road to El Dorado certainly fits, being a sexy sarcastic burglar in a story featuring almost exclusively male characters: the two protagonists, the priest (foe), and the king (ally).
  • Beans from Rango is the only female character in Rango's horseback rescue party, and winds up as his feisty love interest.

Video Games
  • In-Universe, in the Mass Effect series, Nyreen Kandros is the only resident of Omega who dares to stand up to its uncrowned queen Aria T'Loak—and gets to keep her life. Because Aria admittedly likes it when she's feisty.

Western Animation
  • Ahsoka Tano from Star Wars:The Clone Wars one is a feisty who is best friend of the male lead and she is an apprentice.
  • Jane was almost certainly added into the adaptation The Legends of Treasure Island for this reason, playing the role of token female team mate that was lacking in the original novel, and having a rather conventional boisterous Action Girl persona.
  • Emily seems to serve as this in Thomas the Tank Engine, compared to the original The Railway Series novels, which only had a couple of minor female engines. Her role as such mostly came during Hit's run of the series, which evolved her personality to be more confident (and occasionally bossy and snarky) and promoted her to one of the eight main characters in the "Steam Team".
Community Feedback Replies: 25
  • October 31, 2012
    Psi001
    • Jane was almost certainly added into the adaptation The Legends Of Treasure Island for this reason, playing the role of token female team mate that was lacking in the original novel, and having a rather conventional boisterous Action Girl persona.
    • Emily seems to serve as this in Thomas The Tank Engine, compared to the original The Railway Series novels, which only had a couple of minor female engines. Her role as such mostly came during Hit's run of the series, which evolved her personality to be more confident (and occasionally bossy and snarky) and promoted her to one of the eight main characters in the "Steam Team".
  • October 31, 2012
    lexicon
    All five of those examples are a Zero Context Example. Say how she is feisty and maybe how she is token.
  • November 17, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    "Token" in this context means "making a perfunctory gesture", like a token black is a character included only to (attempt to) be inclusive of racial minorities. These examples are all major characters. Possibly their specific character traits were "just thrown in", but the character certainly was not, and intentions are really hard to divine without Word Of God. Example: how does one possibly confirm or deny the claim that "Jane was almost certainly added [...] for this reason"?
  • November 17, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    The curse of the Minority Feisty female in kids movies, a blogpost on the blog, Reel Girl, talks about this trope.
  • November 17, 2012
    acrobox
    Maybe Rename to Minority Feisty Female or even just Feisty Female.

    being female seems to be essential to the trope, and for me at least and i'd assume for most people the term Minority usually points to racial minority as opposed to gender. but i dunno. Also if the minority points to the fact that this is essentially a more modern take on the Smurfette Principle (that the Token Girl is feisty or an Action Girl as opposed to being The Chick or playing any other traditionally submissive gender role) i'm not sure Wreck It Ralph counts.

    The main characters are the gender equal foursome of Ralph, Felix, Vanellope and Calhoun, so theres no minority. In Hero's Duty Calhoun may count for that as a standalone universe, but there are plenty of other girls in Sugar Rush, so Van doesn't count in her own universe or the movie as a whole.
  • November 18, 2012
    aurora369
    I still do not grasp this idea firmly, but isn't Ahsoka Tano from Star Wars:The Clone Wars one? Feisty? oh so much. Minority? Yeah, a Rubber Forehead Alien in a mostly human main cast. Best friend of the male lead? Yeah, or, to be precise, his apprentice.
  • November 18, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    Astrid, Jessie, and Colette are not minorities, neither in the sense of race nor in the sense of importance to the story. Guessing the same is true of the Wreck It Ralph examples but I haven't seen that movie.

    What is this supposed to be? The description says "a feisty Token Girl" (and I'm not sure that's even tropeworthy) but the examples don't match it.
  • November 18, 2012
    Psi001
    @Lexicon: Fixed.
  • November 18, 2012
    StarSword
    ^^You don't think anything's tropeworthy. ;D

    I agree, though, that this needs serious work before it's even remotely launchworthy. I think what the OP is trying to produce is something like Feisty Token.
  • November 18, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    ^ That isn't even a little bit true. Strong confirmation bias: there are tons of drafts I don't comment on at all. Of course I am only going to say "I don't think this is tropeworthy" about drafts that I don't think are tropeworthy. But "in YKTTW you tend to comment on drafts you think are not tropeworthy" doesn't sound as damning I guess.
  • November 18, 2012
    StarSword
    ^ Relax, I was just kidding.
  • November 18, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
  • November 19, 2012
    aurora369
    Sorry OP, you misunderstood the bit about Ahsoka. She isn't the "best friend of the male lead's apprentice". She is the best friend of the male lead and she is also his apprentice.
  • November 20, 2012
    MorganWick
    Compare and contrast Smurfette Breakout.
  • December 2, 2012
    Koveras
    • In Universe, in the Mass Effect series, Nyreen Kandros is the only resident of Omega who dares to stand up to its uncrowned queen Aria T'Loak--and gets to keep her life. Because Aria admittedly likes it when she's feisty.
  • June 10, 2013
    VoixOff
    Minority is to be understood in the original, large, sociological sens: a part of the population than isn't a minority per se, but is treated as one by society. Basically if you are not born a white heterosexual male ... you are a minority. So ladies, gays and trans are minorities, too.

    I would say this trope is to be recognised only when the girl can't be considered a protagonist and for this reason maybe i would'nt include Wreck It ralph. But personnaly i think this it's tropeworthy. It's something like the magical negro but adapted to girls: it's still a male world, but we allow a couple of feisty girls to live in it.

    Chell From the Road to Eldorado certainly fits the parts, being a sexy sarcastic burglar in a story featuring almost exclusively male characters: the two protagonist, the priest (foe), the king (ally) ...

    Another exemple would be One Piece, especially Nami: You have only too girls in a crew of nine, and the main players of the Univers, the most formidable fighters are Always Male : Gol d Roger, Silvers Rayleight, Hawkeye, White Beard, Ace, The Shishibukais,
  • June 10, 2013
    313Bluestreak
    The Fiesty Female Character can often be a Tsundere.
  • September 23, 2013
    DAN004
    Compare Ms Fanservice?
  • September 24, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Tropes Are Not Bad so why does the description sound just like a one huge feminist rant?
  • September 24, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    sounds like Short Tank to me.
  • October 4, 2013
    kjnoren
    I think there is a trope here, but the name so vague it's hard to get the trope here. My impression is that it's a role analogous to the Magical Negro - ie a strong character who is shown in a sympathetic light but is relegated to a strict support role to the (male, white, cisgendered) protagonist.

    This is one case where I think making a Snow Clone would be justified, though I don't like Magical Female, Magical Woman, or Magical Girl, in part because there is another similar trope with stay-at-home passive feminine wise women who use their female intuition to solve problems for the hero. Feisty Magical Female maybe?

    But the trope name needs to reflect both the personality and the role within the story.
  • October 4, 2013
    DAN004
  • November 8, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^ Girl's shorter than female.

    just read Edna Walker's linked article. and now i know why this sounds like a feminist rant: it is.

    still don't see how this isn't already covered by Short Tank though.
  • November 8, 2013
    DAN004
    Needs a laconic.
  • November 8, 2013
    Sackett
    Isn't this already covered by our current tropes?

    Smurfette Principle, Men Are Generic Women Are Special cover this already right? I don't recall anything about those two tropes not covering Action Girls, or "feisty" women.

    Also, the example just seem to be anytime a "feisty" girl shows up. But we have tropes to cover that too.

    I mean, I'm not saying there aren't tropes here, just that we've already covered them. This just seems to be taking the tropes we already have and then adding complaining about tropes that you don't like. Or even complaining about tropes that you think are being played to selectively and not used enough.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=uxd4b6f0wzcottwut2vf2qyi