To celebrate the July 28 Season One release of Joss Whedon’s action-drama "Dollhouse" on Fox, we’ve assembled a list of Top 10 Action Heroines throughout television history. If she kicks butt, saves the day or otherwise steals the show, you’ll find her here!
10. Buffy Summers, Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Joss Whedon’s television adaptation of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" birthed the career of Sarah Michelle Gellar, who took the Buffy reins from the actress who played her in the film, Kristy Swanson.
Who’s Buffy Summers? Oh, just your average high school cheerleader chosen to battle the undead. Together with the Scooby Gang, she kicks supernatural ass up and down the screen while getting herself tangled up in vampire romances and alliances with the "mortally challenged".
9. Charlie’s Angels
Charlie’s Angels are a three-in-one deal, because nobody splits up the Angels! These three female super agents at a private investigation agency, who took orders from a mysterious man named Charlie through a speakerbox, set the standard for action heroines when the series debuted in 1976, lasting five seasons and spawning a series of movies and remakes.
The Angels frequently (and conveniently, to the young male viewers) went undercover as models, strippers or cocktail waitresses in their investigations. Their sexuality was only part of their repertoire for crime-fighting in the wildly popular action-drama, and the show’s longevity was extended by a new wave of Angels in later seasons. Fans of Farrah Fawcett will remember that the seventies icon got her start as an Angel.
8. Wonder Woman
So what if "Wonder Woman" aired before most of us were born? By squeezing into the iconic costume, Lynda Carter became the first – and by far the most popular – comic book heroine to ever grace television. Amazonian Princess Diana would spin to transform into Wonder Woman, a crime-fighting heroine armed with a magic belt, tremendous strength, bullet-deflecting bracelets, a tiara that can be thrown as a lethal boomerang and a unbreakable magic lasso that can force anyone to tell the truth. Practical? Not really. Awesome? Absolutely.
7. Xena, Xena: Warrior Princess
What other title character gets shot full of arrows and beheaded in the series finale? None that we know of. She may have gone out in one of the worst ways possible, but Xena the Warrior Princess was a force to be reckoned with in ancient Greece. Starring Lucy Lawless as the lead character, the historical fantasy chronicled Xena’s quest to seek redemption for her past sins as a ruthless warlord by using her formidable fighting skills to help people. A noble quest, but don’t mistake kindness for weakness – we wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of her blade.
6. Sydney Bristow, Alias
No TV heroines list would be complete without super-spy Sydney Bristow of "Alias". A Krav Maga expert, multi-lingual and a natural at the art of deceit, Sydney assumed multiple aliases to carry out her missions, most of which involved her dishing out severe bouts of high-powered beatdowns. With a knack for Mission: Impossible-style stunts and a tendency to kick people in the face, Sydney’s our type of heroine.
5. Sarah Connor, The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Set two years after the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Sarah Connor (Lena Headey) is on a one-track mission to protect her son, John Connor (Thomas Dekker and ) from…well, you know. As Skynet’s army of Terminators set out to destroy her and her son, Sarah proves herself to be the ultimate heroine by keeping mankind’s last hope alive. Determined to finally stop running, Sarah decides to fight for her freedom and
save mankind by going after the very people and machines out to destroy us all.
4. Echo, Dollhouse
Another gem from Joss Whedon! The beautiful Eliza Dushku is Echo, a member of an elite, secret group of operatives ("Dolls") whose personalities and existence have been wiped clean, enabling them to be imprinted with any number of new personalities. When each doll is assigned a mission – usually ranging from good deeds to assassination, they’re programmed with a new personality, leaving no traces of memory from previous events… do they? As Echo stops forgetting her past, she begins piecing together her own history, taking off on a perilous journey of self-discovery that makes for some of the best heroine action we’ve seen in years.
3. Max Guevara, Dark Angel
Two words: Jessica Alba. An enhanced-human prototype trained from birth to be a flawless assassin, Max (Alba) escapes from a secret government institution called Manticore at 9 years old. Ten years later, Max is searching for her family in a post-apocalyptic future while being hunted by her military handlers, which makes for plenty of superhuman fight scenes.
2. Jaime Sommers, The Bionic Woman
The gorgeously kick-ass Michelle Ryan starred in the short-lived "Bionic Woman," a remake of the ’70s series of the same name (the title character was then played by Lindsey Wagner, a jaw-dropper in her day). Fitted with advanced bionic prosthetics and implants following a near-fatal car accident, Jamie is a modern-day Super Woman, a technological marvel with nanomachines in her body which allow her to heal at a highly accelerated rate. Pit her up against nearly any of her TV Heroine peers, and you’d have a bionic bloodbath on your hands.
1. Nikita, La Femme Nikita
Rather than the drug-addict kid pulled from the streets as portrayed in the original Luc Besson film, the television series presents Nikita (Peta Wilson) as an innocent homeless young woman drawn into a world of ruthless counterterrorism tactics and assassinations, in which she walks a fine line between staying true to her morality and embracing the ruthless & fascinatingly inventive killer she’s been trained to be.