"Where ya gonna find another girl who can shoot the eye out of a Bug at two hundred meters?
will often include a female to widen the demographic appeal (to women and, er, young men
Fills the role that was used primarily for minority characters
in earlier times. A lone black or Japanese soldier fighting in an otherwise all-white, American WWII unit was its most common form, despite being totally unrealistic since the US Armed forces did not integrate their combat units until 1948, 3 years after the end of the war
A particularly strange trope in countries where women are specifically barred from serving on the front line
. However, sometimes this may be explained as being a test for determining whether or not to lift this barring. Other times, circumstances may force female troops not serving in combat positions to take this role because modern war contains no real front lines.
If the Squadette is particularly skilled, she's also an Action Girl
. If The Squad
Squadettes, you get the Amazon Brigade
. If The Squadette has to disguise herself as a man, she's Sweet Polly Oliver
. There is rarely more than one
, and if a new one joins the Squad, odds are the old one will die
. A Squadette isn't unusual or token in a society where Gender Is No Object
The secondary character version generally falls into two categories: the Ms. Fanservice
who typically leaps
around in implausibly revealing
gear, or the tough, grubby tomboy who is usually more convincing as a warrior but also less likely to survive the story
Boyish Short Hair
is common but not obligatory. May also be a Ladette
, but this is not a mandatory trait. On the other hand, if she remains feminine and elegant while being a competent fighter, she may be a Lady of War
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Anime and Manga
- Area 88: Kitori in the TV series; Sela in manga issues that did not make it stateside.
- Fullmetal Alchemist, in general. This is a universe which seems to have a universal draft, or at least equal opportunities for women, as there's a pretty large percentage of female soldiers, including Riza Hawkeye, Olivier Armstrong, Maria Ross, Rebecca Catalina, and a decent number of background soldiers, overall amounting ten to fifteen perfect of the soldiers shown. Martel was also once a soldier before she became a Chimera.
- Hellsing Seras Victoria in the first episode. All things considered maybe she shouldn't have been there...although she did noticeably better than the rest of the troop. After that, she gets promoted to full-on Action Girl. This is not the case in the original manga and Ultimate anime, as there she was just an ordinary constable who stumbled onto a case that was way too big for her and somehow ended up surviving longer than everyone else in town did. Her eventual promotion to Action Girl still happens, though.
- The appearance of a woman on a SWAT Team (or the equivalent) used to be fictional, but women have been represented more and more in real life.
- Toshokan Sensou Iku Kasahara is the first woman to join the elite Library Task Force.
- Combat Kelly and the Deadly Dozen, a Marvel Comics World War II comic, had Laurie Livingston who was arrested for stealing from US Army supply depots as its sole female member.
- The Losers: Although never an official member of the squad, Norwegian partisan Ona Tomsen filled this role for a time in this DC Comics series.
- The New Universe of Marvel had Jenny Swensen became this when her MAX armor was co-opted by the Army.
- Nth Man: The Ultimate Ninja has Sgt. Debra Levin, a 19-year-old Green Beret and the only female in the suicide mission to extract John Doe.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As a reflection of Real Life, the Archie comics version had a female Middle Eastern soldier with special powers.
- Mothra in The Bridge is this to an extent. There are other female kaiju, both in-universe and in-story; and considering the other franchise included in the crossover; she's far from the only main female character. But she is the only female member out of the core four benign kaiju, Godzilla, Anguirus, and Rodan all being male.
Film — Animated
- Mulan: While shown as a Lady of War in ancient Chinese literature and various live action films, the Disneyfied version of the character is portrayed more as in this trope, which is somewhat justifiable as the character is just fresh out of training. However, none of her later exploits are shown and she becomes combat competent only towards the end of the film.
- Sergeant Calhoun in Wreck-It Ralph commands a squad that is battling alien invaders called "Cy-Bugs". Her initially cold personality is the result of losing her fiancé on their wedding day.
Film — Live-Action
- Aliens. Vasquez. Also Dietrich and Ferro.
- Avatar. Trudy Chacon (Michelle Rodriguez), part of the largely sausage party SecFor.
- Basic. Nunez, a female US Army ranger, which the US Army did not and still does not permit.
- Cliffhanger. The only member of his team Qualen actually admires is Action Girl Kristel, who's smarter than the rest of his mooks (when making the fake distress call, she claims that one of their party is running out of insulin so the rescue team won't wait till after the storm). Despite this, Qualen ruthlessly kills her to force the hand of a rebellious team member.
- Courage Under Fire. Captain Karen Walden (Meg Ryan). She's a medical chopper pilot, but the movie revolves around her having to take this role when she and her crew are shot down in enemy territory.
- Down Periscope. Lt. Lake (Lauren Holly). At the time the movie was released, the US Navy did not permit women to serve on submarines. Justified, however, as she's explained as being a test case for doing so.
- G. I. Jane. Lt. Jordan O'Neil (Demi Moore). The US Navy didn't and still does not permit women to be in Special Ops. Justified, as the whole plot of the movie is her being a test case for doing so.
- The Kingdom. Janet Mayes (Jennifer Garner). Justified in that she is an FBI agent. Currently 18% of FBI agents are female, it would not be terribly unlikely for her to appear. Now the question of whether they would send her to Saudi Arabia is a different story.
- An Officer and a Gentleman, Casey Seeger who wants to be the Navy's first female aviator, which wasn't allowed at the time of the movie's release but now is.
- Predators has Isabelle the sniper.
- Starship Troopers. Dizzy Flores in both The Movie and the Animated Adaptation.
- S.W.A.T. (2003). Police Officer Third Grade Chris Sánchez (again Michelle Rodriguez).
- American women are allowed to join SWAT teams, although it is still rare for a woman to do so. Here is an article about a woman who is part of an American SWAT team.
- Wake Of Death. This otherwise forgettable Jean-Claude Van Damme movie has a female US Army officer wearing a Combat Infantryman's Badge, which only men can receive as women are not permitted in Infantry (11) or Special Forces (18) series MOS.
- Iron Eagle II. Valeri Zuyeniko, despite the fact that the Soviet Union stopped using female combat pilots after World War II.
- Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger.
- Scarlet and The Baroness from G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
- Ender’s Game: Petra Arkanian, the lone girl of Battle School. Do not confuse her with The Chick.
- The H.I.V.E. Series features two, the first being Raven, an adult, who acts as a Cool Big Sis to Alpha squad four, which is made up of a bunch of teenagers. In squad four is Shelby, who is also a squadette.
- The Forever War: Has a near-even mix of male and female with most women being Squadettes, plus co-ed locker rooms and bunks— it's literally mandatory to share a bed, at least before the first Time Skip.
- The Guns of the South: The Harry Turtledove alternate history novel had Molly Bean, a prostitute who served with the Castalia Invincibles on the side of the Confederacy. She was disguised as her "cousin" Melvin Bean to hide her femininity (She was flat-chested, which helped). For the record, there was an actual Molly Bean in the Real Life Invincibles, but she was discovered and kicked out (Turtledove couldn't find out her actual job, so he speculated that she was prostitute).
- John Ringo seems to be fond of these. Examples include Marine Sgt. Ellsworthy in the Legacy of the Aldenata series, and Sergeant Major Eva Kosutic and Sergeant Nimashet Despreaux in the Prince Roger series.
- The Malazan Book of the Fallen: has a number of examples. Blend, Picker and Smiles to name a few of Imperial Marines that are in the various armies. Not to mention Sorry from the first book.
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe's X-Wing Series: The first and only series to have as its main heroic cast the X-Wing pilots of Rogue Squadron, was also the first series to have some of those pilots be female. The roster changes as people die or transfer out, but typically there are at least two, possibly more, in Rogue Squadron at any given time, although generally the women are outnumbered by the men. Some are human, some are not.
- One of the comics showed four proto-Rogues before the Death Star on a mission where one of them got killed. The others went on to be in Red Squadron and survived. Those others, human men all, were Jek Porkins, Biggs Darklighter, and Wedge Antilles. The pilot who died in a Heroic Sacrifice was "Doc", a stocky female Twi'lek who seemed rather like a Twofer Token Minority.
- Tyria Sarkin of Wraith Squadron lampshaded this trope after being flirted with by a squadronmate, asking if this was going to be one of "those" squadrons where there was one woman pilot that all the men were chasing.
- The Rogue Squadron comic books had six female pilots and eleven males, though the squadron never had more than twelve members total. They all had strongly varied personalities and roles and the two The Big Guy characters were both very different women. These comics have one of the better records for female representation in Star Wars, with women also playing varied non-squadron roles like that of the Big Bad.
- The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold has Elena Bothari-Jesek, Elli Quinn and Taura. Also Cordelia Naismith, whose brief military career provides a lampshading.
- The Zone novels set in an Alternate History World War III. Andrea, a beautiful East German Sociopathic Soldier who is inducted into the unit because its CO Major Revell has an unhealthy fascination with her. Justified in that Revell's Ragtag Bunch of Misfits is not under anyone's direct authority, and therefore routinely replaces causalities by plundering them from other units.
- The The War Gods series by David Weber has Kaeritha, especially when she's travelling with Bahzell, Brandark and company.
- In Honor Harrington the Manticoran and Havenite military forces is completely gender-neutral so there are plenty of examples. The Grayson Space Navy was male-only until the second novel and is slowly changing.
- In the Swedish fantasy novel Spiran och Staven (The Sceptre and the Quarterstaff) women of the Zaki people that choose to go the male way of life may become warriors. The competent officer Sorana serves as an unexpected mercenary in the novel's main military conflict, which takes place far away from the Zaki empire.
- In the Temeraire series, the refusal of the acid-spitting (and thus stratigically indespensable) Longwing dragon breed to accept male handlers means that Napoleonic Britain's Aerial Corps is peppered with these. This was hidden from the populace at large, the other branches of service, and the bulk of the government itself until Jane Roland made Admiral.
- Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM) is attached to the mixed-gender 597th Valhallan regiment for most of his career, created by shoving the remains of an all-male and an all-female regiment together. In Warhammer 40K, such regiments are less common than all-female ones, as maybe 10% of the Imperial Guard are women.
- Vin in Mistborn: The Original Trilogy is the only female member of Kelsier's Crew (in the first book, at any rate. In the second they are joined by Tyndwyl and in the third by Allriane).
- Spyder in the Myth Adventures novel M.Y.T.H. Inc. In Action is stated to have joined up based as part of an "experimental program", and is a punk girl who automatically bristles at authority, which doesn't go down well with the Drill Sergeant Nasty.
Live Action TV
- From what we've seen of the Unification War in Firefly, Zoe Alleyne seems to be the only female who served under Malcolm Reynolds.
- Battlestar Galactica Both versions have examples of this:
- The original in the two-parter "Lost Planet of the Gods". The fleet has a shortage of pilots, so they scrounge desperately for shuttle pilots and anybody who can fly. They're all women. These pilots are never seen again (Although some occasionally had a mention in comics), and you never see another female pilot until Sheba, and she was only introduced to be a love interest to Apollo.
- The new one did this. Right out of the gate, you see women like Starbuck and Boomer (Kat and Caprica Six show up later on).
- Bluestone 42: Corporal Lynda Bird, very much in Ladette mould.
- Farscape: had this with the Peacekeepers mixed squads, and ex-Peacekeeper Aeryn Sun.
- Law & Order: Used as a plot point in an episode. The police break up a wild hotel party being held by a group of sailors on shore leave. In one of the rooms, they find the body of woman who they assume is a hired prostitute. Then they discover her uniform and realize that the deceased was a Lieutenant.
- Another episode dealt with a female fighter pilot (on trial for murdering her lover), and allegations that the Navy was holding her to a lower performance standard to keep her as a recruiting tool.
- M*A*S*H has this, justified in the fact that they're the nurses of the 4077.
- JAG: Harm had three partners on the show; Lt. Caitlin Pike in the Pilot Movie, Lt. Meg Austin for the rest of the 1st season, and Major/Lieutenant Colonel Sarah "Mac" MacKenzie for the rest of the series.
- And of course, being a show about the military, spent numerous episodes discussing the role of women in combat. Being Backed by the Pentagon, the issue usually tilted towards acceptance.
- Over There: "Doublewide" and "Mrs. B" are truck drivers who get stuck with the all-male squad for various reasons nearly every episode.
- Space: Above and Beyond: Shane Vansen. Also, "Damn Fool" Damphousse.
- The Unit: The CBS series is a notable exception, with the only female members at Mission Control. Although they do have all the characters' wives tearing each other to pieces back home.
- Ironically, the real-life Delta Force (on which the show is loosely based) has supposedly used women in certain situations as intelligence and non-combat field agents.
- They DID try to incorporate Bridget "RedCap" Sullivan into the unit when she first appeared in the beginning of season 4, but for reasons unknown they gradually moved her duties back to Mission Control and to other menial tasks.
- Captain/Major/Lt. Colonel Samantha "Sam" Carter, from Stargate SG-1 and later Stargate Atlantis. In her first appearance, she mentions how she accumulated over 100 hours flight time over hostile territory in the Gulf War.
- Combat Hospital shows women serving in Afghanistan in a number of roles, from doctors and nurses to chopper pilots.
- Red Cap has Sergeant Jo McDonough and Staff Sergeants Neve Kirland (season 1) and Harriet Frost (season 2).
- In Blake's 7 every armed resistance group or Federation base seems to have a single female member in a speaking role, while everyone else is male. There are never any female mooks in the background, silently working their way up the ranks to the position of Supreme Commander or Rebel Leader.
- This is a plot point in the Australian 1990's mini-series Phoenix. The only female member of the Major Crime Unit is the unit's analyst; as a result she has a problem getting the detectives to take her (and by extension her job) seriously.
- Our Girl is about a female combat medic in an otherwise all male British Army platoon.
- Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Ezio can recruit women into his bunch of Assassins.
- Kinda subverted in that the gender ratio for Assassin recruits is roughly 50/50, so you'll likely end up with at least half of your brotherhood being female. Or 100%, with the Sisterhood cheat.
- Call of Duty: Finest Hour. Lt. Tanya Pavelovna in the Eastern Front missions who assists you in one level and is playable in the next.
- Call of Duty 2 has some blink-and-you'll-miss-it Squadettes in the Stalingrad levels, who scream incessantly at the soldiers vigorous patriotism and insult anyone who hangs back from an assault.
- Conflict: Denied Ops. Carrie Sherman. Your squad is initially all male, but she gets assigned as a replacement sniper after your previous one is captured.
- Gears of War. Anya Stroud, Samantha Byrne, and Bernadette Mataki in the third game. In the first two games and the novelizations, only men do the fighting, while all fertile women are used for reproductive purposes, and all non-fertile women serve in support roles. However, by the third game, humanity is down to its last legs and needs every available body to fight.
- Iron Grip: The Oppression. Gretchen Stoertebellor, member of a Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits resistance cell and a former bandit. Her father was both a legendary badass and an infamous pirate warlord.
- BioWare games avert it by providing plenty of female NPCs to bring along in your squad, from straight up action girls like Ashley Williams or Aveline Vallen to powerful magic types like Morrigan or even a Wrench Wench like Tali.
- Starcraft: Lt. Sarah Kerrigan, and Nova.
- The Valkyrie Frigate serves this role in the Terran arsenal, being the only damage-capable unit with a female portrait (neither the Medic nor the Dropship can actually inflict damage). In 2, the Banshee stealth bomber (well, not really a bomber; more like an A-10 with a cloaking device) is present as well.
- Traffic Department 2192: Vulthaven's TD has at least three: player character Lieutenant Marta Louise Velasquez, Commander Renee White, Lieutenant Nicola Cartel.
- Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 has Fox, the first female commando in the series.
- Depending on your personal theory on the Pyro's identity, Team Fortress 2 either plays this straight or averts this. Or maybe inverts it. We really have no idea.
- G.I. Joe Both sides have some. The Joes had Scarlett, Lady Jaye, Cover Girl, Jinx, and Firewall. Cobra had a few female members, most notably The Baroness and Zarana. And in the same episode mentioned below, a bunch of female Cobra grunts showed up for the Baroness to command. There was also the occasional comparatively low-ranking female trooper or agent. In a few cases not even being named, or with any attention in the plot paid to their gender—just mooks who happened to be women.
- Averted in one episode, where the male Joes are put out of commission by the Cobra Widget Of The Day and the above trio save the day, backed by a battalion's worth of never before (or since) seen female Joe redshirts (or greenshirts, as the case may be).
- The comic had an issue where, in disguise, the female Joes broke up a hostage situation by appearing to be nurses and then beating the ever-living shit out of the bad guys.
- Star Trek: The Animated Series had an episode where all the men were incapacitated, and the women had to take over (Sound familiar? See the Battlestar Galactica example above). Uhura and the first non-wimpy version of Christine Chapel ran the ship, and had already solved the problem by the time men stagger back aboard.
- It is notable that in real life it is generally preferred to have several women serving together in a unit as opposed to a single woman for morale purposes. This is commonly done in fighter squadrons where there will be three or four women in a squadron or none at all.
- Miss England 2009: Lance Corporal Katrina Hodge (who had received a commendation for bravery for disarming and downing an escaping prisoner).
- Women in combat positions by continent and country:
- North America:
- Canada. The Canadian military allows women to fill all the same positions as men, apart from a very few positions on their older submarines that lack facilities for female crew members. Female soldiers were among the numerous Canadian troops fighting in Afghanistan, alongside with men.
- The USA has recently decided to open infantry positions to women. This will apparently apply to all conventional infantry positions, while special force units can chose to admit or deny female applicants at their own discretion.
- Germany. In 2000 a female German medic successfully went to the European Court of Justice to remove restrictions for women bearing arms in the German armed forces. Her original intention was just to be allowed to receive weapon training for self defence, but it caused the German Government to officially allow women in their armed forces as soldiers. Nowadays female soldiers are a notable if still small part of their land, air and sea forces.
- Finland. Finnish defence forced showed green light for women to serve in the armed forces in 1992, and several women have opted to do so. They can (and do) serve in all branches and tasks, yet there are same requirements for physical performance for both sexes. Those women who do pass the physical for demanding tasks, such as Parachute Rangers, often are tough as nails. Many women, who have served, have also volunteered in UN peacekeeping missions.
- Originally some tasks (e.g. Military Police) were designed to be forbidden from females. But enough females demanded to be given at least a chance to try and all limits were dropped.
- Sweden has women in all infantry branches except its naval commandos.
- Denmark similarly employs women in nearly all military positions and is one of only four countries in the world with legislation allowing for the conscription of female soldiers.
- The Netherlands
- Ireland has women in all service branches (with women making up 5.7% of the standing Irish force) except the elite Irish Army Rangers Wing.
- The military of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland does not allow women to serve in combat infantry positions...except for one particular regiment. The Special Reconnaissance Regiment, an elite intelligence gathering unit of the British military is the only "teeth" regiment in the entire military with female combat soldiers.
- Serbia recently opened its door to female combat personnel.
- Turkey does not employ female infantry soldiers but it is notable for having a surprisingly large number of female aircraft pilots for everything from transport planes to attack helicopters to fighter jets. In fact the worlds first female fighter pilot was Turkish.
- South Korea employs women as part of the 707th Special Missions Battalion (SMB); the actual number of women who serve depends on the the source, with some saying its only a dozen or so while others say there is an entire female squadron, though it is known that the women have to undergo the same training as the boys do. It's mentioned here.
- Taiwan. According a NATO Review , only six of the 28 members of NATO have a greater percentage of women in their ranks than the Taiwanese Armed Forces, and only three nations actually have more women in uniform than does Taiwan. This may have something to do with the fact that the ROC Military relies on conscription of men only, and women must join the better-treated and better-paid officer corps.
- The People's Republic of China has no gender based restrictions and is one of the four countries to conscript female soldiers. Women serve in all branches of the People's Liberation Army and of the People's Armed Police, making up 7.5% and 10% of the standing force respectively. This includes elite unit like the Snow Leopard Commando Unit and the Immediate Action Unit.
- Russia. Technically does not allow women to do combat duties or become commanding officers of anything that sees combat, but that's only in peacetime. During both World Wars Russia/Soviet Union did have female soldiers, officers and even all-female units doing actual combat. Some even were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, only given for exceptional acts of heroism or inflicting big losses to enemy.
- Actually there is one currently existing unit within to Russian military that employs female combat soldier: The Russian Airborne Division or VDV, who are essentially the Russian counterpart to the US Marine Corps, employs female infantry soldiers.
- Civil War-era Russia had, in fact, no Tsarist regulations still functioning and no Communist regulations yet functioning. This meant that any woman who wished so could pick up a gun and join any army, bandit gang or army that is a bandit gang. One particular subtrope was the female commissar; the pre-revolutionary Bolsheviks were egalitarian, and had to send their old cadre to the frontlines en masse when the Revolution was complete and the Civil War started.
- Pakistan allows women to volunteer for and serve within every role in the Pakistani Army and Air Force, including Infantry, Scout-Snipers, paratroopers and Special Operations Forces. The Navy is a bit more complicated, due to concerns over men and women sharing such close confines.
- Sri Lanka employs female combat soldiers, though they are barred from special forces and (oddly) piloting aircraft.
- The Philippines has been gender-integrated since 1993.
- North Korea allows women in all roles, which makes sense since their basically a military empire and thus would want as many shooters as they can get their hands on.
- Israel, one of only four countries in the world that can conscript female soldiers and the only one who does so regularly. Several infantry and special forces units employ female soldiers and operators within the country and the first Muslim Arab to serve in the military (and to serve in actual combat) was a women serving the the CSAR force known as Unit 669.
- New Zealand
- Australia plans to be this by 2016. Currently the only female combat soldiers in the Australian military serve within 4 Squadron, Special Air Service Regiment.
- Libya, under Gaddafi, famously/infamously employed female soldiers.
- South Africa doesn't employ female combat personnel but it is still notable for the sheer number of women in its service; 26.6% of the South African National Defence Force (1 in 4 service personnel) is female.
- Eritrea has women in all positions from combat to special forces and women make more than 30% of the military.
- The Gambia employs female soldiers in all positions and is the fourth country capable of conscripting female soldiers.
- Several SWAT teams through out the world employ or have employed female operators.
- Thanks to the nature of the war in the Middle East (no front lines, inspections of civilians and civilian properties), more women than ever were involved in fighting and combat. See this series of articles in the NY Times.
- Related tropes:
- Lady of War. See the Real Life section of this trope for examples of women who openly served as warriors in the past — historical squadettes.
- Sweet Polly Oliver. See also the Real Life section of this trope for historical examples of women who disguised themselves as men to become squadettes. Women have been fighting in wars side-by-side with men for many centuries; they just couldn't always do so openly.