The year 2017 has been all about women. Women have proven they’re powerful, strong-willed and determined; that they don’t need a man to support them or help them out of a tricky situation. Not all the strong women on this list have been good. Some have certainly had questionable morals or been thrown in tricky situations where they’ve just had to survive, but they’re still fascinating to watch. Here are the 12 most powerful female TV characters of 2017.
#12. Mary Winchester (Supernatural)
Nobody really expected Mary Winchester (Sam Smith) to return to Supernatural, except for flashbacks or more alternate worlds/dimensions. However, Amara did the unthinkable in the Season 11 finale and brought her back to life. Cue a lot of heartache and drama. It turned out Mary had no idea of the things that happened to her 30+ years ago.
She was suddenly thrown into a world that had advanced in multiple ways, with children that were now adults. It was overwhelming and difficult to handle. So, she did the one thing she knew and was good at: went back to hunting. She proved that she could kick butt and take down monsters (and sometimes hunters because of the Men of Letters manipulation.) In the end, she fought off mind control, something nobody had apparently done in such a short space of time, making her extremely strong and powerful.
Supernatural returns Jan. 18, 2018 at 8/7c on The CW.
#11. Alex Danvers (Supergirl)
Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) has been a strong character from the beginning. In 2017, she finally fully accepted who she was. After years of hiding or ignoring the fact she liked women, she finally accepted it and owned this part of her personality. Yet it was never easy. She feared people she loved would turn against her.
Alex became an important figure for the LGBT community. She showed that while it’s hard and scary, owning your sexuality is one of the strongest things you can do. While Supergirl may physically be the strongest and most powerful character, Alex takes it when it comes to emotional and personal strength.
Supergirl returns on Jan. 15, 2018 at 8/7c on The CW.
#10. Amelia Shepherd (Grey’s Anatomy)
Out of all the characters on Grey’s Anatomy, Amelia Shepherd (Caterina Scorsone) has been through some of the hardest situations. A recovering drug addict, she has not just dealt with the loss of her brother but the loss of her child. During 2017, she realized that she had major fears about having another baby. All that loss, pain and anxiety was overwhelming. Then she learned that she’s had a tumor growing in her brain for the better part of a decade.
Everything she thought made up her personality could have been the tumor. Amelia has had to find herself again, figure out her relationships, and assess her work. Learning to walk and talk again were physically difficult, too, making her mentally and physically strong.
Grey’s Anatomy returns on Jan. 18, 2018 at 8/7c on ABC.
#9. Queen Mary (Reign)
As queen of her own country, Mary Stewart (Adelaide Kane) is instantly one of the most powerful female characters on TV. Yet she also has the inner strength that is sometimes difficult to portray without someone appearing evil or misguided. Throughout Reign‘s four-season run, Mary just wanted the best for Scotland and her people, making choices that would put them first.
Unfortunately, it was all stripped away from her when she was accused of conspiring in Lord Darnley’s murder and John Knox helped to turn everyone against her. In the end, she was executed, but she never lost that inner strength and was poised until the end.
#8. Aunt Lydia (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Not all strong and powerful characters are good. When The Handmaid’s Tale was released, the world was shocked and scared. It showed everything what could happen when people turn a blind eye to situations at first, allowing an oppressive regime to come to power.
Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) was one of those to join the regime and teach the handmaid way of life. These women became like children to her, but she wasn’t afraid to use corporal punishment when needed, including chopping off hands and removing eyes. Little is known about Aunt Lydia’s backstory yet, but we can’t wait to find out what made her into the strong — but terrifying — figure she is now.
The Handmaid’s Tale returns in April 2018 on Hulu.
#7. Eleven (Stranger Things)
For a young girl, Eleven (Mollie Bobby Brown) shows an inner strength that many women could only dream of having. After years of experimentation, she was able to escape and work with the young boys who found her. She had some weaknesses, as she tried to learn the ways of the world and figure out who to trust, but that inner strength has remained a core part of her character.
However, she was also a force to be reckoned with physically through her inherited psychokinetic powers. In fact, it’s these powers that made her a lab rat. Most children would run from their powers and the demonic creatures they bring into the world. Eleven chose to face the creature and protect the world twice over, making her an excellent role model for young girls.
Stranger Things Season 2 is now available to stream on Netflix.
#6. Queen Elizabeth (Reign)
Queen Mary wasn’t the only queen in her own right on Reign. Queen Elizabeth of England (Rachel Skarsten) also had that position of authority. At the same time, she had the strength to battle with her insecurities and demons. Elizabeth continually proved to her court that she was a force to be reckoned with, just like her father.
In the end, Elizabeth takes a higher spot than Mary because of that Spanish Armada speech. While Mary had others do her bidding for her, Elizabeth donned the armor and showed her soldiers that being a woman didn’t necessarily make her weak.
#5. Ivy (Once Upon a Time)
Ivy Belfrey (Adelaide Kane) is also known as Drizella on Once Upon a Time. When fans learned that there would be a new curse and a new evil, fans instantly believed Cinderella’s stepmom Victoria would be the person behind it all. It soon turned out that Ivy was the mastermind.
Not only did she prove she had the power to cast a curse, she has also shown her strategic side. While all other curses have had ways to break them, Ivy made sure that never happened through threats to Regina’s family. She wanted everyone to suffer and has slowly woken people up to ensure her plan continues to work out.
Once Upon a Time returns in 2018 on ABC.
#4. Sansa Stark (Game of Thrones)
Of all the Game of Thrones women, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) is the strongest and most powerful. While she may not be a queen like Cersei or have dragons like Daenerys, she has the emotional strength and strategic ability to put her in the top spot. Ayra even told Sansa that Sansa had a strength Arya could never possess and Arya would have never gotten through the things Sansa did.
It’s been a transformation hinted at for the last six years and Season 7 finally delivered. Sansa was able to avoid the manipulation of Littlefinger and even do some manipulation of her own. She has learned from mistakes of the past, kept her emotions guarded and proven herself to be the true Lady of Winterfell.
Game of Thrones returns in 2019 on HBO.
#3. Ally (American Horror Story: Cult)
Ally (Sarah Paulson) started off as a weak link in American Horror Story: Cult, but partway through the season everything changed. As she learned about the cult and those involved, her fight or flight mechanism changed. Suddenly, it was all about fighting and being the one to make it through alive. Ally fought to get her son back, manipulated her way into Kai’s life and ensured those who hurt her suffered.
Throughout the final episodes, Ally wasn’t afraid to take drastic steps to make sure her goals were achieved. The only person that couldn’t be hurt was Ozzy. If that meant killing Ivy, lying to Kai and killing Bebe, then so be it. In the end, she took on a position of power on a larger scale when she was elected senator.
American Horror Story returns in 2018 on FX.
#2. Claire (Outlander)
Outlander Season 3 found Claire (Caitriona Balfe) transported back to the future. She was left trying to find herself again, as she gave birth to the child of the man she had left behind. Her relationship with Frank suffered, she struggled to make friends and she constantly felt disconnected from the world. Yet, she made it all work. She became one of the greatest surgeons in Boston, at a time when everything was against her because of her gender.
Then Roger helped Claire find Jamie in 1765. It was a chance to get back to him, which took her on a whole new journey. Her physical and emotional strength shone through, as she healed dying men on a boat, took a leap of faith not knowing if she would survive and fought against her time-traveling foe. It’s certainly been an adventure for Claire and it’s not yet over.
Outlander returns in 2018 on Starz.
#1. Offred (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Finally, the number one spot has to go to Offred (Elisabeth Moss) in The Handmaid’s Tale. While not in a position of authority, she’s shown emotional and mental strength that would put everyone else to shame. After having her daughter snatched from her and her world turned upside down, she had to find a way to survive as a handmaid. Her only use was to get pregnant and if she didn’t then she could find herself shipped off to the colonies.
It wasn’t just the strength within the system. She also found herself pulled into the rebellion, helping others find their own inner strength, while working within some truly dangerous situations. She put her life on the line to help bring down the terrifying, misogynistic regime.
The Handmaid’s Tale returns in April 2018 on Hulu.
Do you agree with this list? Who is your strongest and most powerful female character from 2017? Share in the comments below.
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(Images courtesy of ABC, The CW, Hulu, Starz, FX, and HBO)
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Alexandria is a full-time freelance writer and journalist. Alexandria studied Computer Science at Aston University and Criminology at the Open University. She enjoys writing about TV shows and entertainment news. Other than writing, Alexandria loves reading, exploring new countries, and relaxing with her family.