24: Renee Walker, who is so badass she earned the fan nickname "Jill Bauer." Ladies like Nina Myers and Michelle Dessler are no slouch either, and Badass Bookworm Chloe O'Brian will unload some M-16 action on your ass if you push her far enough. It's also worth noting that even Jack Bauer's daughter Kim, the former Trope Namer for "Damsel Scrappy," once won a fight with her psychotic employer by smashing him in the face with a crowbar, and also once fought off seasoned Balkan warlords with a pot of hot coffee. Did we mention this was a World of Badass?
Cordelia becomes a rather effective one. In Buffy, she is not one, leaning more towards Action Survivor.
Kate can go toe-to-toe with vampires.
Fred, Illyria, Lilah, and Gwen.
The Avengers: Cathy Gale from this 1960s action/spy show was arguably TV's first Action Girl. She replaced former star Ian Hendry and there were reportedly no changes in the early scripts, so that she was effectively playing a "male" character. She was later replaced with the equally tough Emma Peel, who became the series's iconic female character. Both of them occasionally needed to be saved by male colleague John Steed, but they saved him just as frequently.
Arrow: A number of examples-the Huntress, the Canary, and Shado. Laurel fits as well, although not as Bad Ass as the others, and China White is the villainous version.
Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined): Kara "Starbuck" Thrace from the reimagined show. Kara is perhaps theAction Girl while in the cockpit of a Viper, but is no slouch in hand-to-hand or ranged infantry combat, either — she's described as "the best shot in or out of the cockpit."
Athena as well—actually, most of the Cylons are superstrong and get close to this role.
Willow (in later seasons) is also one. Anyone who manages to inflict pain on a goddess deserves this title.
Anya is one, with hints of Magic Knight, being more than competent in magic as well.
We also get Faith, Kendra, Kennedy, and all the Potential Slayers.
Burn Notice: You really don't want to get on the bad side of Fiona Glenanne.
Though we may have to create the faux girly girl for her as her action girl status is apparent only in action, her demeanor and clothes are definitely girly, so that a new viewer who has also missed the trigger happy ex-girlfriend bit in the title sequence might a bit surprised to see her in kicking ass mode.
Charlie's Angels: The leading ladies (originally Kate jackson, Farah Fawcett, and Jaclyn Smith) were some of the Trope Codifiers. And they each did their jobs very well.
Charmed: All of the sisters. At first Prue was the only one with an offensive power, making the dynamic unbalanced though Phoebe also knew martial arts. Then Phoebe learned to levitate and Piper learned to make things explode and combined with their potions and spells, the sisters are a force to be reckoned with. Then the show later adds Paige and Billie. All four Halliwell sisters (including Prue), although Paige was just as likely to be a Faux Action Girl in her earlier appearances due to lack of experience. Billie and Christy also qualify.
Chuck: Sarah Walker as well as numerous female guest characters.
Criminal Minds: All the female BAU agents, except Garcia, who as the technical analyst is the only team member who can't hold her own in a fight.
Sarah Jane Smith told off brutish middle-ages jerks, faced a Sontaran without flinching, helped a king and queen organize a revolution, captured the Doctor, and later rescued the Doctor. And that was just in her first episode. To say nothing of the next three-and-a-half seasons.......and her own spin-off.
Despite what some newspapers may claim, Leela, who killed a Sontaran by throwing a knife into his vent from across a room. Also Ace, who was never without her trusty Nitro-9 (who also, incidentally, shot a Dalek in the face with a rocket launcher, and beat the crap out of another with a baseball bat).
Ace: I aimed for the eyestalk.
Barbara Wright, one of the original companions! When she's not smashing Mind Rapist brains (it's more awesome in context) or destroying planet-engulfing entities, she's mowing down Daleks with an ancient truck.
In series 5, River Song managed to fly out an airlock into the TARDIS, put her hallucinogenic lipstick to good use, and killed a Dalek in cold blood. Then in series 6, she jumped from a skyscraper into the TARDIS swimming pool, and later took out several Silents by herself while still finding time to tell the Doctor off for being in the way.
She's had so many scenes kicking ass in series 6, she's earned the nickname 'River fucking Song' in some internet circles.
Amy Pond has her moments. Like fighting pirates with a sword. Or going into full battle mode against a group of robots. With a sword.
The other women on the show are no slouches (except Jool, and even she gets better in The Peacekeeper Wars) in a fight, either. Even Zhaan gets some combat ability. But none of them are highly-trained soldiers who show themselves consistently able to make the hard call.
Game of Thrones: Cultures throughout the world see women of action in a variety of lights, from acceptance to scorn.
Arya Stark practices swordplay and looks up to fellow action girls from Westerosi history, such as Visenya Targaryen, sister of Aegon the Conqueror, and Nymeria, Warrior Queen of the Rhoynar (after whom she names her direwolf).
Brienne of Tarth is a large and strong woman whose one want in life is to be a knight. She has dealt her entire life with the scorn of others for her choice of a non-traditional role.
Yara Greyjoy. After her older brothers were killed in battle and her younger brother taken hostage, she was the only child of the Greyjoy line left and took on the role her eldest brother would have served at her father's side.
Wildling spearwives such as Ygritte and Osha.
Meera Reed is skilled with weapons and acts as her brother Jojen's protector.
Hex: Ella Dee. On the rare occasions when the heroes actually achieve anything, it usually involves her doing violence to somebody. Including throttling a priest (who was actually a demon) while wearing a truly terrifying expression.
Dee Dee McCall in the 80's Cop ShowHunter was just as physically capable and useful in a fight as her male colleagues.
JAG: Although the Semper FiMs. Fanservice Sarah “Mac” MacKenzie primarily stayed in the courtroom, whenever a situation calling for an action girl to arise, Mac would answer the call.
Knightmare: Velda the Elf and Gundrada, at least as much as possible within the confines of a kids show.
La Femme Nikita: The eponymous heroine, both movie and series, as well as the lead of the 2010 television remake Nikita.
Leverage: While they aren't the main fighters, Parker and Sophie have both had their extremely kick-ass moments: Parker fighting arms dealers in Serbia and Sophie knocking out goons with a fire extinguisher. They are also extremely, extremely competent in their own fields.
LOST: Juliet. Television Without Pity calls her a ninja. Kate, Ana-Lucia, Rousseau, Charlotte (who rarely got to show it off), and Ilana (who took out Sayid, one of the biggest badasses on the show) as well.
We got an unlikely action girl in the form of Claire in the final season, too.
Majisuka Gakuen: Any female character that can not fight is a rare exception in this Japanese series.
Masters of Horror: In the episode "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road", Ellen was trained by her survivalist husband to be prepared for anything. She proves the psycho killer Moonface that she's not the easiest prey and ends up killing him in a one on one fight.
NUMB3RS: Megan Reeves. Not only does she have the firearm proficiency expected of an FBI agent, but she also has a black belt in Krav Maga. As she remarks to Colby, "If you're going to be arresting people a hundred pounds heavier than you, you'll need to learn some hobbies."
Once Upon a Time: Emma Swan, Regina, Snow White, Red, and Mulan. In this show, just about every female character becomes either an Action Girl or Dark Action Girl because this show doesn't believe in damsels in distress.
Cassie and Ashley from Power Rangers in Space spend the whole season taking part in a rescue mission for Zordon and, along with the male rangers, end up fighting evil super-powered versions of themselves.
Trini and Kimberly from Mighty Morphin are the original PR Action Girls. Later on, Trini is replaced by Aisha, who also does a solid job in her own right.
Primeval: Abby Maitland is a zookeeper who knows how to kick-box, making her a perfect for a team that has to chase dinosaurs that walk through time anomalies into the present time. Jenny Lewis is also revealed to know how to use a gun despite dressing inappropriately for her line of work.
Stargate Atlantis: Teyla is easily mistaken for the self-effacing type until she comes after you with a P-90 or her trusty Bantos rods. She routinely kicks Sheppard's butt during their sparring sessions and is not afraid of making her point with a knife to the throat.
The unlucky fella who ended up with the last option was a Wraith. Yes, those Wraith.
Stargate SG-1: Samantha Carter prefers to be the thinker of the gang, but when butt kicking is called for, she kicks butt!
Vala can pull an action girl when she needs to, but normally she'd rather be devious and hide behind Daniel.
Actually she very obviously did the opposite once for Cam — Cam's girlfriend looked terrified and hid behind him away from the big scary gun (for God's sake) and Vala just casually sauntered in the firing line and called the Psycho for Hire a coward. He didn't really manage to recover from that.
Come to think of it, Vala's really just as much of an Action Girl as Sam, what with pulling stunts like taking on the whole of Prometheus single-handedly and pissing off Goa'uld platoons.
Kira is also a former Bajoran Resistance fighter, with all the hell-raising and combat capability that implies (as she put it in the pilot episode, "I've been fighting for Bajoran independence since I was old enough to pick up a phaser."). In fact, Kira might just be theAction Girl of the Trek Verse, at least with regard to the canon series.
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Tasha Yar for a while (pity she died) and K'Ehleyr as well, both women who easily counted as Action Girls. Tasha was raised in an anarchist colony and spent time running from rape gangs as a girl, and K'Ehleyr took on Worf in the holodeck.
Gwen didn't start out this way, though. Up until the second episode she hasn't even handled a gun. According to her, she doesn't even kill spiders. Jack points out that he doesn't either... with a gun. Now she has no problem shooting a helicopter with a bazooka or punching out a trained CIA operative for calling her "English"... and by this point she's an Action Mom.
Ultimate Force: Trooper Becca Gallagher. Okay, Season 3 was when the series (arguably) Jumped the Shark but there was nothing wrong with the character.
Carol didn't start out as one, but would certainly qualify now.
Xena: Warrior Princess: Xena herself, despite being on the bottom of this list, is arguably one of the most iconically badass women in fiction. Her sidekick, Gabrielle, also became one in later seasons. If you see her in the costume displaying abs o' steel and she has short hair, she's kicking ass.