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From 'Agent Carter' to 'Alias,' the best butt-kicking ladies on TV

By now, you’ve probably seen Agent Carter on ABC. More than likely, the show has struck a chord, inspiring reactions like, “Where has this show been my entire life?” And, “Is this possibly the best show ever made on television?” Also probably: “Please let this show have a million seasons” … and so on and so forth. Let’s all agree on the fact that Agent Carter has lived up to that Marvel hype, and Peggy has so far—once again—proved to us that she doesn’t need Steve Rogers to save the day. Captain America, who?

As much as we love Peggy—and we really, really love Peggy— she’s not the first woman to kick some serious butt on prime time (and I hope she won’t be the last, either). Peggy joins a long list of other strong, powerful, extreme butt-kicking women out there on television.

And if we’re going to talk at length about Peggy for the next hundred years (rough estimate), we should at least mention all the ladies that have come before her. This list is by no means complete, but here are just some of the best butt-kicking women TV has been lucky enough to have over the years. Here’s to many, many more.

Kara Thrace, aka Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff), Battlestar Galactica


Say whatever you want about Battlestar Galactica, but you’ve got to admit there’s something special about Kara (call sign Starbuck). First off, how is that not the coolest call sign ever? Starbuck is the best pilot in the fleet, a heavy drinker, and an avid card player. She boasts a slight temper and a touch of ego, and she is also just a little flawed (okay, maybe a lot flawed). Through all of that, we loved her. We never expected her to be perfect, so we never faulted her when she fell far from that. Hey, she was only human, after all.

Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner), Alias


Will there ever be another spy show as great as Alias? Sure, it got a little weird in the middle sometimes, with all the double crossing and daddy issues. But at the show’s root, Sydney always stood strong. She knew what was most important to her, and stopped at nothing to see it through—she even got her happy ending. Wasn’t there a period where we all kind of wanted to be spies, because Syd made it look so cool?

Kim Possible (voiced by Christy Carlson Romano), Kim Possible


Chances are, if you’re between the ages of 22 and 32, at some point you had Kim’s kimmunicator ping as your ring tone. You might still have it now. Listen, no shame, my friends, because the animated Kim taught a whole generation of kids that it was okay to be a little bit different—you just might end up saving the world. Kim was able to balance homework, cheerleading practice, whatever Ron Stoppable was doing, and taking down the bad guys? If Kim can do it, I can do it, too. Plus, it was often brought up that Kim wasn’t the most popular girl in school. Bring Kim back; she was a cartoon beacon of hope for many.

Agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Melinda May Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

It’s been said before, and I’ll say it again now: there’s a reason Agent May is called “The Cavalry.” She takes the strong, silent persona to a whole new level of action on ABC’s first Marvel outing, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Viewers have yet to see May back down from a fight, even when she’s fighting herself (a fight so epic, it should honestly win some sort of award. And if there are no awards for epic fights, maybe the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences should create one. Just saying).

Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), Game of Thrones


There are lots of women who can throw a punch on Game of Thrones—from Brienne to Ygritte—but would you ever expect so much sheer chutzpah from such a little Stark? Arya is independent, strong, and seriously not going to take any rubbish from anyone. Her sword, Needle, is basically everything about Arya manifested in a weapon: It seems small and meek, but is seriously deadly if crossed.

Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski), Chuck

Sarah Walker, Chuck smiling

Chuck Bartowski should have known Sarah was going to be trouble when she walked into the Buy More. But Sarah was also pretty good at getting out of trouble, and Chuck probably owed his life to her half a million times. She could throw a punch just as good as anyone else, but there was always an underlying soft side to Sarah, too. In the end, Sarah turned out to be one of the most complex, and evolved, butt kickers television has ever seen—male or female.

Xena (Lucy Lawless), Xena: Warrior Princess

Xena: Warrior Princess Lucy Lawless

Xena knows she’s done some bad stuff in her life. What better way to right those wrongs than by fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves? Xena often mentions that she’s fighting for the “greater good,” but whatever she’s fighting for, we all know she’s going to win. As it was once explained to Xena, when she couldn’t understand why everyone was staring, “All these men can talk of is a chance to see you in action.”

ALL of the ladies from the brilliant mind of Joss Whedon

It would be easy to simply say that Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is the best butt kicker Whedon has given us. But it would be a travesty to leave out the ladies of Firefly, which includes River Tam (Summer Glau) and Zoë Washburne (Gina Torres). And for fun, let’s include Kaylee (Jewel Staite) and Inara (Morena Baccarin), because they saw their fair share of action. And if we’re talking about Buffy and Firefly, we have to throw in Echo (Eliza Dushku) from Dollhouse, too.

And still, there are THANKFULLY far more butt-kicking ladies out there on TV. What are some of the big ones I missed? Wonder Woman? Charlie’s Angels? Can Leslie Knope be considered a butt-kicker?

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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