Game of Thrones has been criticized in the past for its depiction of women. Ramsay Bolton’s rape of Sansa Stark in Season 5, in particular, inspired heated reactions, as has the show’s approach to depicting female nudity. At the same time, the show has produced an array of compelling female characters, many of which seem well on their way to becoming icons.
The film industry seems to agree. The Hollywood Reporter asked over 1800 writers, actors, directors and other Hollywood professionals to name their favorite female characters, and then listed out the 50 most common responses. The list was filled with memorable female characters through the ages, from Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz to Buffy the vampire slayer to Ellen Ripley from the Alien movies. But no one property had a bigger showing than Game of Thrones, which had five characters on the list:
44. Sansa Stark
38. Brienne of Tarth
THR reminds us of how George R.R. Martin was inspired to create Brienne after watching Xena: Warrior Princess. “I did not think it was an accurate portrayal of what a woman warrior was or would be. I created Brienne of Tarth as an answer to that. I was inspired by the queens of Scottish history and Lady Macbeth — strong women who didn’t put on chain-mail bikinis to go forth into battle.” Xena makes the list, too, by the way, coming in at #33.
34. Cersei Lannister
16. Arya Stark
8. Daenerys Targaryen
I like the diversity of characters on here, from villains like Cersei to warriors like Arya and Brienne to leaders like Sansa and Daenerys. After Game of Thrones is over, I suspect one of its legacies will be its willingness to give female characters prominent parts to play. When it comes to epic fantasy narratives, male characters tend to take point. (Think The Lord of the Rings.) I like to think that Game of Thrones is changing that perception. Read the full list here.
For reference’s sake, Star Wars and Friends also had more than one character on the list, but neither had as much as Thrones. And who came in at #1? Hermione Granger of Harry Potter. Hard to argue too much with that.
And now, you have a chance to sound off, as THR has taken the top 32 characters from its list and pit them against each other in a head-to-head tournament. Who’s the greatest female character around? Vote!