8 badass female protagonists that I love the most

Jul 4, 201725 comments

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Not all of us loves to spend all their time reading Harlequin’s Mills and Boons and dreaming about Mr. Right saving our damsels in distress (though that is my guilty pleasure). There is nothing pleases me more than the kickass female protagonists who would not wait for an alpha male to do everything for them.

When one is done with their fair share of books about princesses, schoolgirls swooning over boys, women gossiping about others, and oh, the vampires and werewolves, take a look at my top eight kickass female protagonists from the literary world. They may be sensible or petty, avenging or forgiving, but they are all strong and independent. They knew what they wanted, and they went after that – be it a guy or their land. So here they are.

8) Elizabeth Bennett, Pride and Prejudice

As much as I fell in love with Mr. Darcy, the short-tempered haughty male protagonist, the first time I read Pride and Prejudice, I could not help but look up at Lizzy as one of my role models. She is well read, sensible and speaks her mind even to the mighty Lady Catherine de Bourgh. She cares about her family than her looks and doesn’t live by the norms of the society. She says no to a wedding proposal that could have made her life a lot easier and chooses someone who is worth her. In short, Austen taught me the importance of self-worth and free thought, mind that the book was published in the 18th century.

7) Holly Golightly, Breakfast at Tiffany

Apart from making smoking look cool, made being a free spirit and living an independent life sound chic. Though her life goal was to latch on to someone rich, like most of the females of the era, Holly makes a statement that she doesn’t need a man to have a purpose in life. She is a dreamer, a wannabe perfectionist, someone who believes in others’ dreams and helps them come true. She leaves her ex-husband as it did not help her to move forward. Someone that ambitious, that elegant and that larger than life, is a badass.
 badass female protagonists

6) Jane Eyre, Jane Eyre

Set in 1847, Jane Eyre could be one of those early feminists. She chooses to be independent and self-sufficient. She falls for Mr. Rochester, but once she learns it might go against her principles, she walks away from it all. She finds jobs to keep herself afloat and never backs once down from her ideals, despite her turmoils. She does find her happy ending but on her own accord. Jane’s own words cannot be any truer for any feminist of today.

I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.

5) Liesel Meminger, The Book Thief

Very young at age, compared to other protagonists here, Liesel could easily be my most favorite. Born in the Nazi Germany, 9-year-old Liesel helps her foster family hide a Jew in their basement, reads to him and nurses him back to life. She has a strong moral code and just does not follow the rules and status quo of the Hitler led country. She even beats up a classmate when he taunts her and always sticks up for her best friend, Rudy. She steals books and food to keep her going and had cheated death twice, all before she turned ten. Her perseverance in learning to read and love towards books made me feel closer to her. Liesel stands true to the fact that age is no bar to be strong and morally just human.

4) Amy Dunne, Gone Girl

Trust Gillian Flynn to create dark and evil characters and make us fall in love with them. Amy Dunne is the coolest of cool girls. She falls for the ideal man and marries him by becoming the ideal woman for him. She is a perfect daughter, wife and is more than what the eye meets. When she realizes her husband has fallen off their game and had an affair with a student, she becomes the femme fatale. She fakes her own death, rape and covers a murder and does it all with flair. She gets, read as manipulates, her man back into her life. I would not call Amy’s character perfect, but that is what I loved about this cold blooded woman.
 badass female protagonists

3) Hermoine Granger, Harry Potter

Ask any Potterhead, they would accept that Harry and Ron would be nowhere if it were not for Hermoine. She is fierce, strong and well-read. Oh, she is opinionated and is not afraid to question the authority. She is loyal and steadfast, even when Ron quits Harry’s quest for a while. Even though she is a muggle-born, she turns to be better than even the pure-bloods like Malfoy. Nobody likes a know-it-all, but she has proved her worth more than once that she is not just a sidekick to the beloved Harry Potter, making her a much beloved female protagonist of all times.

2) Lisbeth Salander, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium series)

She has her own moral code and sticks to them. She is the best at what she does and more. She has an eidetic memory, a skillful hacker and a master at concealing identities making her one of the best PIs around. She is at times self-destructive and has had a traumatic childhood making her what she is today. She has a strong opinion about everything, especially about men who abuse women. Lisbeth is absolutely the strongest of the contemporary female protagonists.

1) Scarlett O’Hara, Gone with the wind

Call it a bias, but I love Scarlett. She might be selfish, vain and manipulative, but by far the badass the female lead that we have ever read about. Though essentially a love story (pardon me Scarlett), her life throws light on what a woman can do, if she wills. She loves, or thinks she does, a man and marries three other men, only to realize that the perfect guy out there has lost his hopes on her. She pulls through her family and her beloved land from the remnants of the civil war and promises that she is never going to let her family starve ever again. She understands the real meaning of winning by hook or crook and that winning is all that matters. She believed in rising from the ashes and proves time and again that she can.
 badass female protagonists
Did I write about your favorite female protagonist? No? Tell me whom I missed and why they deserve to be on the list. I added someone who doesn’t deserve to be on it? Let me know, let us talk it out, please do not send any hitman to my residence yet.

Hello there!

Gayathri loves reading, recommending books and talking about bookish things in real life. Her blog is just an extension of that habit. When she is not reading books or creating online content, she freelances as a beta reader. She lives currently in Dubai.Head over to meet me


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  1. Cesar H

    Amy is quite a character. Credit must be given when it has to be given Haha she is so freaking smart, cunning, and as you said cold blooded! Nobody messes with here xD I do think she is a bit crazy Haha but it was really well thought and created!!

    • Gayathri

      I totally agree with that. I can’t help adoring her!

  2. kindleandkompass

    I love Lisbeth. I opened the post expecting to see her name 🙂

    • Gayathri

      She deserves her spot on any list.

  3. esmoogle

    UGH what a GOOD LIST. My no 1 gal Jane 💛 a really fab list including classics and modern heroes and I LOVE seeing Scarlett O’Hara at number 1 because I think she’s underestimated a lot and just considered a sex symbol.

    • Gayathri

      YESS to what you said about Scarlett. I love her.

  4. The Story Sponge

    Jane Eyre! Liesel! Hermione! I am not familiar with everyone on this list, but there are definitely some really excellent ones. I love Jane and the respect she has for herself and for Mr. Rochester. I love that her decision to leave him actually saved their relationship. And Liesel is such an inspiring character. She is so determined and spirited and I fell in love with The Book Thief. Such a breathtaking book. Hermione is wonderful of course, but I also really love Luna Lovegood. She is so confident in who she is, and that allows her to be kind to everyone.

    • Gayathri

      I agree with your love towards Luna, being a strong person herself. I am glad you apprvoed of my choices.

  5. Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks

    Well, since I see no new posts (where are youuuuu?!?!?!?), I am just going to comment on an old one! 🙂

    Nice post! I agree with Jane Eyre and Liz Bennett for sure! I did not really like Holly Golightly myself, just personally, but yeah, she was a badass character when you think about it 🙂 and of course yes for Hermione as well!

    • Gayathri

      I love all these characters!

  6. Marjie Mare

    My favorites are Scarlett O’Hara, Gone with the wind and Amy Dunne, Gone Girl

  7. Marjie Mare

    I am with you with Scarlett as # 1, my favorite.

  8. Megan @ Ginger Mom

    I can’t comment on all but I absolutely love Lizzy Bennett and Scarlett O’Hara. Have you read the companion novel to Gone With the Wind (Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley)? It shows more insight into Scarlett once things start going her way a little bit. She grows up and I liked her character a lot more in that book. But Lizzy Bennett will always be a favorite! And Hermoine too 🙂 Great list!

    • Gayathri

      No, but I have heard mixed opinons about the book. Should I take the plunge and read the Scarlet? What do you say, is it good?

      • Megan @ Ginger Mom

        I absolutely loved it. It shows Scarlett in a somewhat better light, I think 🙂

        • Gayathri

          I would check into it for sure then. Thanks for the rec.

  9. K Eliz | Southern Sagittarius

    Jane Eyre is one of my all time favorite books! I loved that book so much in high school. It definitely inspired to become my own person, to not be afraid to walk away from people and situations no matter how much we love them and to not let others put me in box.

  10. Gayathri Lakshminarayanan

    Oh Holly from Breakfast at Tiffany is very different from any other on the list. She has her quirks and twists but is definitely a strong character.

  11. Nicole Hewitt

    I agree that Katniss would be an awesome addition to the list! I've actually never read (or seen) Breakfast at Tiffany's but that GIF has me interested for the first time ever. 🙂

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  12. Gayathri Lakshminarayanan

    Katniss would be a great addition to the list. Thanks for the recommendation!

  13. Gayathri Lakshminarayanan

    Thank you for the recommendation. I will surely look into Shannon's books soon.

  14. Tina at Mommynificent.com

    Great list! I would Enna from Shannon Hale's Enna Burning. (I really like all of her heroines!) Thanks for linking up at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com!

  15. tulika singh

    Totally in love with this list. I'd add Katniss Everdeen of Hunger Games.

  16. Unknown

    Yes to all of this!
    Now we just need more women lead actresses talking to other actresses and now about men or babies.


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