In honor of International Women’s Day, we decided to take a look at the smartest, strongest and most successful women on television shows. The results, like the women, are extremely impressive.

#20 Glee

In a high school arguably filled with losers, Sue Sylvester reigns supreme. She may be an evil despot, but you’ve got to admire the drive and ability that put her on top. Plus, nobody wears a track suit better.

#19 Big Love

When it comes down to it, Big Love is the story of three women and their husband, not the other way around. Barb, Nikki and Margene are inevitably more intriguing, sympathetic and likeable than the often difficult Bill.

#18 Leverage

Parker and Sophie are truly masters of their respective crafts. Granted, their crafts are highly illegal and often immoral, but what can you do?

#17 Modern Family

Could you even imagine Modern Family without Gloria’s insanity or Claire’s neuroses? Of course not. Why would you even want to?

#16 Sons of Anarchy

We’re talking about women who are tougher than rape, kidnapping, murder, changing alliances and just about every other criminal activity you can think of. Plus, despite living lives of crime, most of the Sons of Anarchy women remain (kind of) honorable.

#15 30 Rock

For all her insecurities and weirdness, Liz Lemon runs a successful TV show (as much as anyone can run The Girlie Show anyway). As for Jenna Maroney, well, I guess it’s pretty cool that she’s successful.

#14 Grey’s Anatomy

First off, they’re all doctors. That’s cool enough. But when you consider the emotional angst and regular tragedy faced by Meredith, Cristina, Callie, Bailey, Arizona, Lexie, April and Teddy, you know the women of Grey’s Anatomy are truly impressive.

#13 Mad Men

Peggy depicts all you need to learn about the evolution of feminism in the 1960s. And no woman has ever been better than Joan at walking that fine line between sexiness and absolute respect in the office.

#12 The Good Wife

For a show inspired by male political sex scandals, The Good Wife features an awful lot of strong and powerful women. Alicia turned marital and political disgrace into a law career. Diane is a senior law partner. And Kalinda is someone you just don’t want to mess with.

#11 Community

At Greendale Community College, there is no one nicer than Shirley, more idealistic than Britta or smarter than Annie. Considering how much damage those ladies manage, that’s probably a good thing.

#10 Law & Order: SVU

You can’t get a much stronger TV woman than a police officer who hunts down the worst of sex offenders. Detective Olivia Benson manages to win, even in the face of the worst of humanity, a sexual assault and her own traumatic past.

#9 House

Lisa Cuddy is a doctor. Who runs a hospital. And keeps her doctors from killing people with crazy treatments (mostly). She even managed to date House. Now that’s truly impressive.

#8 Burn Notice

Yes, there’s a man at the center of this show. But where would Michael Westen be without the explosive (literally) Fiona or his nagging mother Madeline? When it comes to motivation, these two women provide most of it on Burn Notice.

#7 The Vampire Diaries

A witch, a vampire and whatever the heck a doppelganger is (you know, besides an excuse to double Nina Dobrev’s contribution to the show). You could cross the young women of The Vampire Diaries, but you’d likely end up dead. And in Mystic Falls, that’s not an idle threat.


Only strong women can hold their own in a workplace as “manly” as that of NCIS. Fortunately, they do. It probably helps that Ziva David is a highly proficient assassin, while Abby Sciuto is a perky Goth who is better than anyone at her job.

#5 Castle

There aren’t many women up to the task of catching murderers while avoiding being overwhelmed by Rick Castle. But Kate Beckett can pull it off, even when dressed in crazy heels and surrounded by man-boys.

#4 The Closer

There’s really only one woman on The Closer. But Brenda Leigh Johnson is enough.

The Closer

#3 Fringe

Olivia has a gun. As evidenced by the rather high number of dead bad guys, she knows how to use it too. Meanwhile, Walter’s lab wouldn’t function without the presence of Astrid, no matter how long it took him to learn her name. And Nina Sharpe runs one of the world’s biggest corporations one-handed. Women don’t get much more kick-ass than they are on Fringe.

#2 Chuck

Sarah Walker can beat you up. And she’ll look pretty doing it.

#1 Bones

Simply put, there is no female TV character more impressive than Temperance Brennan. She’s brilliant, beautiful and successful. Even when broken up about Booth’s rejection earlier in the season, Brennan immediately carried on with her life, just the way a strong woman should. Throw Brennan’s coworkers Cam and Angela into the mix, and Bones truly has the most incredible collection of women on television.

Laurel Brown

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Laurel grew up in Mamaroneck, NY, Grosse Pointe, MI and Bellevue WA. She then went on to live in places like Boston, Tucson, Houston, Wales, Tanzania, Prince Edward Island and New York City before heading back to Seattle. Ever since early childhood, when she became addicted to The Muppet Show, Laurel has watched far too much TV. Current favorites include ChuckModern FamilySupernaturalMad Men and Community. Laurel received a BA in Astrophysics (yes, that is possible) from Colgate University and a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies and History of Science from Columbia University before she realized that television is much better than studying.