15 Sci-Fi Shows Led By Stellar Female Characters

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In the past, women had been marginalized in the science fiction genre. They either fill the roles of supporting characters who are helpless, quick kills or, as some say, simply serve as “lampposts” or background scenery.

More often than not, female characters are used to propel a male character’s story, and the audience never gets to know the female character in depth.

Luckily, times are slowly changing and there are more sci-fi movies that have women in lead roles. These characters have their own backstories and character arcs. Over the years, some of these characters such as Scully from The X-Files have become role models for many young girls and encouraged them to pursue careers in science.

This International Women’s Day is a great time to revisit some of the amazing female-led sci-fi shows ever listed below and keep #BreakTheBias going.

1. Aliens

The sci-fi horror film Aliens (1979) stars Sigourney Weaver as Lt. Ellen Ripley, a character who inspired tough, driven female characters in science fiction and beyond. In the story, Ripley had to confront and fight dangerous aliens in space with her crew on their ship, Nostromo. The success of the first film spawned a franchise and introduced another strong female character, Alexa Woods, in her crossover AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004).

2. AVP: Alien vs Predator

AVP: Alien vs Predator stars Sanaa Lathan as Alexa Woods, an experienced mountaineering guide. She has been hired by a wealthy industrialist, Charles Weyland, to lead a team on a dangerous journey off the coast of Antarctica where they find themselves caught between a battle of two alien species.

3. Prometheus

Prometheus is a prequel inspired by the Aliens franchise. Archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw (played by Noomi Rapace) discovered a star map in Scotland and interpreted it as an invitation from beings known as the Engineers. The CEO of Weyland Corporation quickly funds an expedition aboard the science vessel Prometheus, to search for the origins of mankind.

4. Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery stars Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham, a Discovery scientist who eventually assumes the captaincy. The series begins about ten years before the events of Star Trek: The Original Series.

Burnham’s recklessness sparks a war between the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire, so she is demoted and reassigned to the USS Discovery.

Throughout her adventures, she encounters brilliant female characters such as Sylvia Tilly (played by Mary Wiseman), an ensign from Discovery, and the fearsome warlord/emperor Philippa Georgiou (played by Michelle Yeoh).

5. Rim of the Pacific

Rinko Kikuchi plays Mako Mori, a Ranger-in-training in the Pan-Pacific Defense Corps (PPDC) who eventually commandeered a Jaeger called Gipsy Danger along with Raleigh Becket when monsters known as Kaijus attacked the world. In Pacific Rim: Uprising, she rose through the ranks and became the General Secretary of the PPDC.

6. Psycho Pass

Psycho-Pass is a Japanese cyberpunk psychological thriller anime series set in a futuristic Japan ruled by the Sibyl System, a powerful biomechatronic computer network.

The story follows Akane Tsunemori, a rookie inspector assigned to Division One of the Public Security Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division who uncovers a plot involving a criminal mastermind.

In this world, citizens are constantly assessed for their prevalence in committing a crime. Bureau enforcers are tasked with getting rid of citizens with a high Crime Coefficient score.

7. Alita: Battle Angel

Alita: Battle Angel tells the story of Alita (played by Rosa Salazar), who is a cyborg who wakes up in a new body with no memory of her past life. She lived a rather sheltered life thanks to Ido, a compassionate cyber-doctor.

One day, she discovers she is well versed in Panzer-Kunst, a lost art of combat for machine bodies, when her father figure, Ido, is ambushed by a gang of cyborg killers. Believing that she will eventually regain her memories through fighting, she soon crosses paths with a criminal mastermind.

8. Serenity

Serenity (2005) is a Space Western movie that served as a sequel to the Firefly television series. The story focuses on the Serenity crew who house River Tam (played by Summer Glau), a girl with special psychic abilities who is also an assassin.

Due to their actions, the crew had to outrun an Alliance agent known as Operative. The film also stars Gina Torres as Zoe Washburne, Serenity’s second-in-command, and Jewel Staite as Kaylee Frye, the ship’s mechanic.

9. Sun

Sunshine (2007) is considered the darkest and most beautiful science fiction film ever made. An international crew of astronauts aboard the Icarus II spacecraft are heading to the dying Sun to save the human race. The plan is to plant a bomb there in hopes of reigniting the star. The film features amazing characters such as Corazon (Michelle Yeoh), a biologist, and Cassie (Rose Byrne), the pilot of Icarus II.

10. Ex-Machina

Alicia Vikander stars as the humanoid AI Ava in this psychological thriller. A programmer named Caleb has been asked by Nathan, the company’s CEO, to administer the Turing test on Ava to find out if she can pass as a real person. Everything seems pretty good until Ava tells Caleb not to trust Nathan and works her way to freedom.

11. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One is the first installment in the Star Wars anthology series and an immediate prequel to Star Wars: A New Hope. The story follows an orphan girl named Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Jones) who eventually joins the Rebel Alliance and embarks on a dangerous mission to steal the Death Star plans.

12. The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water is a romantic sci-fi film that is the first to win the Best Picture Oscar. Set in 1962 Baltimore, the story follows a mute cleaner named Elisa Esposito (played by Sally Hawkins) in a high-security government lab. She falls in love with a captured humanoid amphibious creature. Their fascinating and bizarre love story keeps the audience spellbound until the end.

13. O.I.

When Earth’s atmosphere became toxic, most of the human race settled on a space station near one of Jupiter’s moons, Io. Margaret Qualley plays Sam, a young scientist on Earth who tries to breed a species of bee to save the world.

14. Annihilation

Annihilation follows a group of scientists and explorers investigating The Shimmer, a mysterious quarantine zone of mutating plants and animals caused by an alien presence.

Natalie Portman plays Lena, a biology professor and Army veteran, who recounts what she saw while in the Shimmer.

The film stars Jennifer Jason Leigh as psychologist Dr. Ventress, Tessa Thompson as physicist Josie Radek, Tuva Novotny as geomorphologist Cassie Sheppard, and Gina Rodriguez as paramedic Anya Thorensen.

15. Everything everywhere at once

Everything Everywhere All At Once is an upcoming sci-fi show starring Michelle Yeoh. Yeoh plays Evelyn Wang, an ordinary immigrant working at a laundromat trying to pay her taxes. One day, she discovers that she can access multiple emotions, memories, and skills from her alternate self. To make matters worse, she’s told she’s the world’s best chance for survival against an evil threat.


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