Sci-Fi/Fantasy films and television have had their fair share of lackluster ladies.  I recently came across an article that discussed the worst action heroines that have disgraced the small and silver screens.  Kennedy may be the most hated character in Buffyverse; Arwen was content to just sit around waiting for her man; and Queen Amidala let herself die of a broken heart despite her obligation as a new mother.  While these bad eggs exist, the superior women of Sci-Fi come along to remind us why we keep watching.  I’ve compiled a list of ten Sci-Fi heroines that top the chart of cool, in no particular order (because that would have been unfair, and way too exhausting):

1.  Buffy Summers  (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

She’s witty, she’s hot, and she’ll kick your vampy ass all over town.  Buffy changed the face of TV high school drama by giving girls the aspiration to carry stakes and crossbows in their purse instead of just lipstick.  Along with the Scoobie gang, many of us shared the same touchstones of growing up, just perhaps without the bloodshed.  Buffy’s graduation, the death of a parent, and tumultuous love were all some of the things we could relate to, expertly written by Joss Whedon and his team.  But perhaps most of the credit should be given to SMG, who’s depth, sarcasm, and playful wit brought the legendary Slayer of Sunnydale to life.

2.  Princess Leia Organa  (Star Wars trilogy)

An iconic figure since the debut of Star Wars, Leia was the princess that empowered young girls.  She proved that royalty could be headstrong, intelligent, and didn’t wear a bra (feminist statement or lack of underwire in space?  you be the judge).  Leia’s hair started a cultural phenomena, and her gold bikini is still pretty hot over twenty years later.  You would think the daughter of Amidala might be clingy, but Leia loved Han Solo and orchestrated a mission to rescue him.  Leia is worthy of all the praise, and the action figures.

3.  Leeloo  (The Fifth Element)

What if the key to saving Earth and all of humanity was 5’8, strikingly beautiful, and running around in strategically placed bandages?  Leeloo is not only all of these things, she’s also adorable when eating chicken and figuring out make-up.  She can also kick major alien ass and learn the entire human history in a few hours.  No one can forget “Leeloo Dallas, Mulitpass”, or that strange neon orange hair that only Milla Jovovich can pull off.  Let’s just be glad Corbin Dallas is sexy enough to convince her the Earth’s worth saving.

4.  Hermoine Granger  (Harry Potter series)

She’s the youngest lady on this list, but she certainly packs an academic wallop worthy of being recognized.  Hermoine is known at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for being a know-it-all, Muggle-born, and the brightest witch of her age.  Though she doesn’t fight with her fists (okay, there was that one awesome time – Malfoy!), Hermoine wages battle with her mind and her trusty wand, which might be even cooler.  Smarts and intellect count for a lot in my book, and Hermoine certainly makes the grade.

5.  Sydney Bristow  (Alias)

What’s cooler than getting to dress up and kick ass while doing it?  Sydney and her endless trunk of disguises played double agent for the CIA in J.J. Abram’s entertaining spy drama.  Syd had Daddy issues, a mysterious (and sexy) spy boyfriend, and Bradley Cooper as a best friend (lucky girl).  Syd dealt with a lot of hardships, but her sweetness and determination saw her through the darkest times, including a zombie sister and an evil best friend.  But after a tough day of saving the world, Agent Bristow seemed like the kind of super spy you could just share a drink and some girl talk with.  The best spy is the relatable kind.   

6.  Ellen Ripley  (Alien saga)

Sigourney Weaver made women just as valuable as men on the final frontier.  No longer were they in the background translating dialects (no offense, Uhura) or waiting around to be saved.  Ripley, throughout the Alien movies, did what she had to do to stay alive where no one would hear her scream.  She protected her team, her child, and the world from aliens and corporate corruption by sacrificing her own safety and eventually her life.  Ripley bended gender stereotypes and gave Hollywood a new kind of action hero, not afraid to shoot a gun in her skivvies.

7.  Juliet Burke  (Lost)

On a mysterious island that no one can find, Juliet manages to maintain her cool surprisingly well.  If you’ve watched an episode of Lost, you know how hard that is.  Brought on as a fertility specialist to solve a puzzling epidemic of killer pregnancies on the Island, Juliet becomes deeply tangled in the web of the Dharma Initiative and Ben Linus’ pile of bullshit.  Her seemingly stoic nature was perfect Ben lackey criteria, doing his evil bidding until she decided to switch teams and play for the good guys.  Juliet is strong, intelligent, and cool as a cucumber under enormous stress (and ticking time bombs ““ literally), and that’s why she’s the Lostie I’d pick in any crisis.     

8.  Trinity  (The Matrix)

Computer hackers might have been those losers in mom’s basement before 1999.  But after Trinity, they were hot, decked in leather, and owned an unlimited supply of shades and ammo.  There’s probably no one cooler than Trinity, or no one cooler than I can think of.  Out of all the ladies on this list, she can learn how to fly a helicopter in three seconds and kick your ass a thousand different ways if you give her an hour or two.  And in slow-motion.  Dodge that.

9.  Neytiri  (Avatar)

The newest woman to the list is tall, beautiful, and blue.  Neytiri is the cat-like Na’vi princess of James Cameron’s Pandora, existing organically by living off the earth and connecting with her world.  Her peaceful symbiosis with nature is what makes her such a great new addition to feminine canon, but also her gargantuan bow and arrow for keeping you the hell off her planet.

10.  Sarah Connor  (T2: Judgment Day)

Everyone remembers The Terminator, but Sarah Connor didn’t become a presence until T2: Judgment Day.  Having been locked away for talking nonsense, Sarah made sure to tone those guns in case Arnold ever showed his face again.  Sarah Connor busting out of the hospital is one of the best payback scenes in cinema history (that orderly certainly had it coming).  She has a rough exterior, but underneath it all, she’s driven by an overpowering love for her son.  Maybe just a little rage, too.