First off, what’s an anti-hero? An anti-hero is a character with personality flaws, generally portrayed as a villain but with enough heroic intentions and qualities to gain our admiration, sympathy, respect or love. Essentially anti-heroes are flawed heroes. Generally the most notable anti-hero examples are cited as males – think Severus Snape and Captain Jack Sparrow (and a personal fave of mine – Spike the vampire from Buffy). So let’s say for once, we take the spotlight off the men and focus on some female anti-heroes instead.
Lisbeth Salander is definitely one of the leading anti-heroes of the last ten years. Her character in the Millennium Series, better known as the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo film franchise, is strong, independent and fights in the name of a righteous cause, but she also make some decisions that are morally ambiguous at best. We can’t help but love her, but we don’t always agree with her actions!
Uma Thurman’s sword wielding, ass kicking performance as Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill provides the audience with a classic anti-hero. While we want a happy ending for Beatrix and expect that she has to do some undesirable things to get there, there is no denying that she’s a cold-blooded, unapologetic killer. You know what they say: two wrongs don’t always make a right!
Catwoman has been portrayed by many of Hollywood’s finest actresses over the years, and the one aspect of the character that always remains is her anti-hero nature. A classic enemy of Gotham’s savior, there is an undeniable chemistry between the two characters that makes us root for Catwoman even when she is working against our hero. My personal favorite will always be Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns!
Scarlett O’Hara is a selfish, vain woman whose tough character puts off nearly all of the characters in Gone with the Wind, but audiences can’t help but love her as a classic anti-hero. The fact that the character and film are so popular 75 years after its release is testament to this, and Scarlett’s blinkered motivation and feminine strength are admirable qualities even if she isn’t the most likeable kid on the antebellum block!
In the five seasons that Game of Thrones has been on the TV, we have seen Arya Stark evolve from precocious child into cold-blooded teen killer. Though we support most of her actions and revel in her revenge, there is no doubt that she has committed morally wrong acts along the way, but with all of those horrible characters to contend with, can we really blame her?
Nurse Jackie is the absolute epitome of an anti-hero. Over the course of the show we saw that she was a brilliant nurse, saving many lives along the way, but what we also saw was the terrible things she did to sustain her drug addiction, including hurting her best friends and family. However, no matter what Jackie did, she always managed to end up on top with another brilliant display of nursing.
Nancy Botwin was another character who did almost everything wrong in her life, but the audience still loved her anyway! The suburban mom turned drug dealer was definitely not the best mother to her two sons, and she made some terrible life decisions along the way, but the charisma of Mary Louise Parker in the role meant that the audience couldn’t help but root for her regardless!
Now I’ve given you some great examples of female anti-heroes, I’d love to know who your favorites are. Let’s hear them!
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