main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Kickstarter Message
TV Tropes Needs Your Help
Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
View Kickstarter Project
Action Girl: Live-Action TV

  • 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?
  • Ace Lightning's spunky sidekick (and Redheaded Hero), Sparx. The name is apt.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Melinda May, SO HARD. Skye slowly becomes one, too, but May is on a whole different level, being pretty much the most formidable hand-to-hand combatant in the series. If you're not superhuman, she will DESTROY you.
  • Alias: The protagonist Sydney Bristow. Also Irina Derevko, Lauren Reed, Nadia Santos, Rachel Gibson, Anna Espinosa, Allison Dorren, Katya Derevko, and Elena Derevko.
  • Andromeda: Beka Valentine and Romi.
  • Angel:
    • 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 (Classic): Athena and Sheba from the original show.
  • Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined): Kara "Starbuck" Thrace from the reimagined show. Kara is perhaps the Action 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.
  • Big Wolf on Campus: Lori the kick-boxer, introduced in the second season.
  • Black And White: Chen Lin from this Taiwanese Series. As the only daughter of a triad boss, she shoots and martial arts with the boys and wins.
  • Bones: Temperance Brennan. Trained in martial arts, and goes hunting. Just for food though.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy herself, from the very beginning. Joss Whedon explained that besides the pure female-empowerment angle, he wanted to take the opening of virtually every horror movie ever made and turn it on its head; normally, the pretty blond girl walks into the dark alley, the monster goes in after, and the girl dies. Here, the girl rips the monster a new one. Naturally, the movie features such a scene (involving several vampires, but also a telling-off for Buffy for being an idiot). In the pilot episode of the show, she walks into a dark alley and clobbers Angel from above. And in the very first scene of the show, Darla chows down on a creeper while wearing a schoolgirl outfit in a dark and abandoned school.
    • 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.
  • Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future: Corporal Jennifer "Pilot" Chase.
  • Castle: Kate Beckett.
  • 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.
  • Dark Angel: Max.
  • Doctor Who has several:
    • 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.
      • She also saved her husband with a machine gun.
      • And she fought velociraptors side-by-side with a Great White Hunter.
    • Companions Martha Jones and Rose Tyler have been seen lugging around some rather impressive guns for facing aliens.
    • Madame Vastra and Jenny, of course. In spades. And with swords.
  • Dollhouse: Echo, Sierra, and November will use this trope depending on the imprint. Echo will become one no matter what imprint you put in her.
  • Eureka: Jo Lupo.
  • Farscape: Aeryn Sun.
    • 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.
  • Firefly:
  • Fringe: FBI agent Olivia Dunham. As well as her alternate self.
  • F Troop: "Wrangler" Jane.
  • 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.
  • Garo : Most Makai Priestess are this by default.
  • Get Smart: Agent 99.
  • 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 Show Hunter was just as physically capable and useful in a fight as her male colleagues.
  • JAG: Although the Semper Fi Ms. 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. This is also true for the lead of the 2010 television remake Nikita, backed up by her protege Alex who also does quite well for herself in this department
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent: Alex Eames. Compared to Goren, at least, she is much more ass-kicky.
  • Law and Order SVU: Detective Olivia Benson.
  • 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.
  • Lost Girl: Bo and Kenzi have both held their own in fights.
  • 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.
  • The Mentalist: Teresa Lisbon, who has tasered suspects while deadpan snarking them.
  • The Middleman: Wendy Watson.
  • NCIS: Ziva David, a Mossad officer trained as an assassin. She's responsible for some impressive takedowns, such stopping the steroid-fueled Unstoppable Rage of a Marine who'd thrown off McGee, Tony, and Gibbs in "Corporal Punishment", and temporarily holding off four Marines at once in "Cloak".
  • Neverwhere: Hunter.
  • 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.
  • Person of Interest: Sameen (Sam) Shaw destroys everyone she goes up against. Her Waif-Fu is powerful, but is equally good with guns, and grins when she can take a sniper assignment. Has recently taken to driving getaway for robbery crews because she was bored. Even more deadly in evening wear and heels, and DO NOT ever be trapped in an elevator with her.
  • Police Woman: Vice detective Pepper Anderson was an early (mid-1970's) example of a female police officer doing the same work as her male colleagues (and not just staying out of action).
  • In the Power Rangers franchise, pretty much any female Power Ranger is this by default as part of the job description. However, there are some who take the trope to an especially impressive level:
    • Jen from Power Rangers Time Force is probably the best example. When not wearing the shiny Ranger suit, she'll clobber poor Wes in sparring sessions (and once for real while Brainwashed and Crazy) and wields a sniper rifle. (Wes isn't a Non-Action Guy, he just isn't police trained.)
      • Katie from the same season might get less focus, but she's also impressively badass.
    • Taylor and Alyssa in Power Rangers Wild Force. The former used to be in the Air Force and the latter is Heir to the Dojo.
    • 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.
    • Kira in Power Rangers Dino Thunder may be the only girl on the team, but she more than makes up for it.
    • Vida in Power Rangers Mystic Force is a rare example of a rough and tumble Pink Ranger who's ready and willing to get her hands dirty.
    • Tori from Power Rangers Ninja Storm is another example of being the only girl on the team, but she kicks enough ass that it doesn't really matter.
    • Z and Sydney from Power Rangers S.P.D., along with their male teammates, are basically the Power Ranger versions of police officers.
    • The Super Sentai franchise also has several. Tsuruhime from Kakuranger, Remy from Fiveman, Luka from Gokaiger, and Sakura from Boukenger are some of the better Sentai Action Girl examples. Some of the earlier female rangers from Sentai would fall into a much more unfortunate category, but this lessened as the franchise went on.
  • 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.
  • Queen of Swords: Tessa is essentially a female version of Zorro.
  • Red Cap: Sergeant Jo McDonough.
  • Revolution: Maggie, Nora, and Charlie.
  • Roar: Most of the women, particularly Catlin.
  • Robin of Sherwood: Maid Marian, also in Robin Hood (2006) and, of course, Maid Marian and Her Merry Men.
  • Sea Patrol: Kate and Bomber hold their own in their fights and win a good number. Nikki rarly fights but never lets the side down. And Bird is too young and inexpeariacned to be good.
  • The Secret Circle: Cassie, Diana, Faye and Melissa. All of them are engaged within the midst of all of the action on this show.
  • Sharpe: Teresa Moreno.
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyles The Lost World: Jungle Princess Veronica Layton.
  • Smallville: Lois Lane is this, probably helped by her Military Brat status. Most of the female superheroes (like Black Canary and Supergirl) are obviously this as well. Tess Mercer became this after her Heel-Face Turn, as did Chloe Sullivan after she Took a Level in Badass.
  • 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.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Jadzia Dax is a dab hand with a bat'leth, and Kira — well, Kira once beat the shit out of a serial killer while the equivalent of nine months pregnant.
    • 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 the Action 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.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: Seems the whole point of the "Macrocosm" episode was to show Captain Janeway stripping down to a sweaty tank top and going Sigourney Weaver on the macrovirus' hiney. Half-Klingon B'Elanna Torres is handy in a punchup too, and Seven of Nine is both a good shot and strong enough to knock someone off their feet and a yard down the corridor.
  • Supernatural: Many of the women hunters including mother-daughter team Ellen and Jo Harvelle, Krissy Chambers, and young Mary Winchester. The demons Ruby (particularly in Season 3; there was some unfortunate Badass Decay in Season 4) and Meg (when she starts using her powers for good in later seasons) also qualify. Anna was this in theory (as the ex-leader of a garrison of angelic soldiers and current fugitive of Heaven) and did have several Badass moments, but didn't get enough scenes to show her fighting prowess before she got Put on a Bus, coming back only to turn on the Winchesters and get killed.
  • Teen Wolf: Allison Argent fits this trope. She is shown to be a tough girl who was raised to be a badass werewolf hunter.
    • Kate Argent is also a hunter, so it comes with the job.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Summer Glau as Cameron Phillips. Despite not being an android, Sarah herself qualifies as well.
  • Torchwood: Despite the fact that she seems to be The Chick, Gwen Cooper is actually an Action Girl. Toshike Sato, on the other hand, was definitely a combo of The Chick and The Smart Guy.
    • 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.
  • Unnatural History: Maggie, first shown in her First Scene in "Thor's Slammer".
  • The Vampire Diaries: Bonnie, Caroline and now Elena qualify. As well as Katherine. Basically all of the female characters in the series.
  • The Walking Dead: Maggie, Andrea, and Michonne.
    • 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.

Live-Action FilmsAction GirlMusic

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy