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July 23, 2014

Greatest TV Women: 50-26

by Kim Potts, posted Mar 2nd 2011 12:00PM
Olivia Benson, Law and Order SVU50. Olivia Benson
'Law & Order: SVU' ( 1999-present) | Played By: Mariska Hargitay
The product of her mother's rape, Benson chose to devote her career to working in the sex crimes unit of the NYPD, where she was a sympathetic presence and fierce protector for sexual assault victims, even after nearly being assaulted herself in a season 9 episode.

June Cleaver49. June Cleaver
'Leave It to Beaver' (1957-63) | Played By: Barbara Billingsley
She was always a little worried about Wally and The Beav, always willing to nurse their physical and emotional wounds with an icy glass of milk and freshly-baked cookies and always answered the door -- and vacuumed! -- with her trademark pearls intact. Retro, sure, but she was one magnificent mama.

Carla Tortelli, Cheers48. Carla Tortelli
'Cheers' (1982-93) | Played By: Rhea Perlman
Cheers waitress Carla had far less education than fellow waitress Diane, but no one could come up with a clever jab faster than Carla, who kept her co-workers and customers in line with her sharp tongue. The tough Boston broad was just as in control in her personal life, which allowed her to raise eight children on her own after divorcing oily Nick and being widowed by cheating former hockey pro Eddie.

Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation47. Leslie Knope
'Parks and Recreation' (2009-present) | Played By: Amy Poehler
The always-enthusiastic Leslie might be annoying, if it weren't for the fact that her enthusiasm is so completely genuine. Her life's mission is to use her local government position to make Pawnee a better place to live for its citizens (and to become the first female president), even if that means ignoring her more cynical co-workers or spinning negative feedback into positive, as when she says a group of townies yelling at her is really "people caring loudly at me."

Pegy Bundy Married With Children46. Peg Bundy
'Married ... With Children' (1987-97) | Played By: Katey Sagal
She was the housewife who sat on the couch watching TV and eating bonbons. Selfish, lazy, big-haired Peg was completely unapologetic about her love of spending husband Al's money and her hatred of doing anything domestic, making her a fun and refreshing alternative to both the harried housewives and work-obsessed women that have populated most of prime time.

Blanche Devereaux, Golden Girls45. Blanche Devereaux
'The Golden Girls' (1985-92) | Played By: Rue McClanahan
Southern belle Blanche had a more active love life than characters half her age, and was unashamed about her constant hot pursuit of male company after the death of her beloved husband George. The always-stylishly-attired Blanche, like her fellow 'Golden Girls,' showed that women of a more advanced age didn't have to fit into any stereotypes.

Florida Evans, Good Times44. Florida Evans
'Good Times' (1974-79) | Played By: Esther Rolle
Introduced to TV land as the family's maid on 'Maude,' Florida and her family were moved to Chicago for 'Good Times,' where the family constantly struggled to make it out of the housing projects. They finally had a shot, only to lose father James in a car accident, leaving the resilient Florida to continue the family's struggle on her own.

Jessica Fletcher, Murder She Wrote43. Jessica Fletcher
'Murder, She Wrote' (1984-96) | Played By: Angela Lansbury
No retired widow was she; Jessica was the bestselling mystery novel author of tomes like 'The Corpse Danced at Midnight' and 'The Corpse Swam by Moonlight.' She was also an amateur sleuth who got wrapped up in real-life murder mysteries in her Maine hometown and anywhere she traveled, from New York to Hawaii.

Shirley Feeney, Laverne and Shirley42. Shirley Feeney
'Laverne & Shirley' (1976-83) | Played By: Cindy Williams
The eternal optimist to her more cynical pal Laverne, sweet Shirley was responsible for getting the two gals back on their feet again every time one of their plans to meet nice guys or improve their lives inevitably fell through.

Carrie Bradshaw41. Carrie Bradshaw
'Sex and the City' (1998-2004) | Played By: Sarah Jessica Parker
TV's most recent It Girl, writer Carrie was committed to work, fashion, her friends and finding love, all while eschewing many of the rules her fellow New York 30-somethings went along with. Her weekly newspaper chronicle of life and love in NYC was like a personal diary of her own Big exploits, but also put her romantic dramas in a context that had universal meaning.

Dorothy, Golden Girls40. Dorothy Zbornak
'The Golden Girls' (1985-92) | Played By: Bea Arthur
Sarcastic and biting, the practical Dorothy was the much-needed voice of reason among the 'Golden Girls.' Often teased by her roomies, including mama Sophia, for being unfeminine thanks to her height and deep voice, the high school teacher nevertheless had her share of suitors, including Blanche's uncle, whom she married at the end of the series.

Mary Beth Lacey, Cagney and Lacey39. Mary Beth Lacey
'Cagney & Lacey' (1981-88) | Played By: Tyne Daly
A married-with-children policewoman, Mary Beth shared with partner Cagney the challenges facing females in a male-dominated, and often dangerous, profession. She also dealt with issues unique to her life, such as the tension her work and hours away from home created with her husband.

Ethel Mertz, I Love Lucy38. Ethel Mertz
'I Love Lucy' (1951-87) | Played By: Vivian Vance
Ethel was Lucy's landlord, best friend and much-needed voice of reason during their hilarious schemes. A bit more deferential to her husband Fred than Lucy was to Ricky, sharp-tongued Ethel was still fiercely loyal to Lucy, whether the two were competing with each other for a showbiz role, operating a dress shop or restaurant together or trying to control the flow of sweets at the chocolate factory.

Amanda Woodward, Melrose Place37. Amanda Woodward
'Melrose Place' (1992-99) | Played By: Heather Locklear
She certainly dressed like a woman, with her trademark miniskirt suits, and used her sexuality to wrap the men in her life around her little finger, but when it came to the boardroom, Amanda could play corporate games as well as any of her male cohorts. Better, even. Her arrival, after all, turned 'Melrose' from an OK show into a guilty-pleasure phenomenon.

Starbuck Battlestar Galactica36. Kara "Starbuck" Thrace
'Battlestar Galactica' (2004-09) | Played By: Katee Sackhoff
Hot-headed, rebellious, hard-drinking gambler and dedicated, disciplined, clear-headed fighter pilot (who was a male character in the original series) -- Starbuck was both, and throughout her many complicated relationships, she remained a leader who ultimately helped lead her people to a new home.

Alice Kramden Honeymooners35. Alice Kramden
'The Honeymooners' (1955-56) | Played By: Audrey Meadows
Blowhard hubby Ralph was always threatening to send Alice "straight to the moon." but even on his worst days, Ralph knew that patient wife Alice was his far better half. Not that she couldn't give as good as she got; though she put up with his various schemes, Alice never failed to meet his wisecracks with a well-placed barb of her own.

Samantha Stephens, Bewitched34. Samantha Stephens
'Bewitched' (1964-72) | Played By: Elizabeth Montgomery
Who among us hasn't at one time wished we could wrinkle up our noses and unleash a little magic? Beautiful good witch Samantha could do just that. Against the wishes of her meddling mama and to please mortal husband Darrin, Samantha was happy to live life sans spells. Most of the time, anyway.

Sophia Petrillo, Golden Girls33. Sophia Petrillo
'The Golden Girls' (1985-92) | Played By: Estelle Getty
The grandmommy of the one-liner, Sicilian Sophia had no filter, which made her a hoot as she instantly spilled whatever quip flew into her head, no matter how rude or whom it was aimed at. Daughter Dorothy, in fact, was a favorite target, as were housemates daffy Rose and man-hungry Blanche.

Rhoda, Mary Tyler Moore Show32. Rhoda Morgenstern
'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' & 'Rhoda' (1970-77 & 1974-78) | Played By: Valerie Harper
So awesome that she spanned two series, neurotic, tough-talking New Yorker Rhoda moved from NYC to Minnesota and then back to the Big Apple for her spin-off series, in which she continued to pursue her window-dresser career and married dream guy Joe. She survived a divorce a couple of years later when the marriage soured.

Diana Prince, Wonder Woman31. Diana Prince / Wonder Woman
'Wonder Woman' (1975-79) | Played By: Lynda Carter
With a magical twirl, Amazonian princess Diana Prince became Wonder Woman, who used her golden lasso and her bullet-deflecting bracelets to thwart the evil-doing of baddies like Nazis, non-violent-style. Carter became an icon in her patriotic costume, meaning her red boots are going to be tough to fill on next season's planned 'Wonder Woman' remake.

Diane Chambers, Cheers30. Diane Chambers
'Cheers' (1982-93) | Played By: Shelley Long
Diane was easily impressed ... with her own intellect. And she was constantly frustrated by the fact that no one else would defer to what she was sure was her superior knowledge of, well, everything. Beneath that bravado, Diane did have genuine affection for her Cheers co-workers and customers and, of course, had one of the great love/hate relationships of all time with boss Sam.

Lucille Bluth, Arrested Development29. Lucille Bluth
'Arrested Development' (2003-06) | Played By: Jessica Walter
The matriarch of the quirky Bluth clan, Lucille could also accurately be described as the mother from hell. Any of her children's issues (and they had many) could likely be traced back to Lucille, who was committed to one thing above all: family. Specifically, using the resources of the family business to fund her decadent lifestyle.

Laverne, Laverne and Shirley28. Laverne DeFazio
'Laverne & Shirley' (1976-83) | Played By: Penny Marshall
Laverne was a sarcastic tomboy with a big heart, and a loyal BFF and roommate to Shirley, who was also her co-worker and co-pilot in a never-ending search to meet the right fellas and engage in a bit of vo-dee-o-doe-doe. And when that failed, she and Shirl could be found bonding in their Milwaukee apartment, with Laverne, attired in her trademark "L" sweaters, sipping a milk and Pepsi.

Jennifer Garner27. Sydney Bristow
'Alias' (2001-06) | Played By: Jennifer Garner
She spoke dozens of languages, was skilled in multiple self-defense methods and could handle the most severe physical and emotional challenges (including the deaths of several people close to her) fearlessly. Throughout it all, Sydney remained a nice, relatively sane woman devoted to family and friends.

Miss Piggy, Muppets26. Miss Piggy
'The Muppet Show' (1976-81) | Voiced By: Frank Oz
Initially meant to be a minor character, Miss Piggy fought her way into the spotlight, as the natural-born ham is wont to do. All she really wants is to be a star -- and to be a couple with her Kermie. She's the only Muppet to pen a real New York Times bestseller list autobiography.


Most Memorable TV Women 10076 | 7551 | 5026 | 251

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Bobby G

Mariska should be better than #50.

March 27 2011 at 1:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
deenlaw1

Not a single person from Hill Street Blues...?

March 09 2011 at 4:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
diazeya

Definetely incomplete, Where is "Sisters", Sela Ward and "Cheers", Kirstin Alley????

March 09 2011 at 12:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jowens1966

Where's "Bones" Temperance Brennan-Emily Deschanel?

March 09 2011 at 9:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tzn777

i love them all

March 09 2011 at 7:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Petite

I love Pam Dawber from Mork and Mindy, Victoria Principal from Dallas amd Jacqueline Smith from Charlie's Angels

March 09 2011 at 5:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jeffweatherill

This is crazy. # 2 is from Battlestar Galactica? That is a complete shame. Before Lucy Ricardo? How about looking at staying power. You Remember Chrissy Show, Morticia Addams, Jessica Tate, Jaime Sommrs, Jill Monroe, Daisy Duke, Pepper Anderson, Flo Castleberry, Suzzanne Suarbaker all in the 76-100, mixed in with V, Lost, Stargate and 24. I've already buried all of Lost. Then Gilmore Girls, Daria? oh, please, The Wire, already forgotten, and Whitley from A Different World, If a Jasmine Guy character deserves to be up there it's her character from Dead Like Me. And even some older series shouldn't be up there, Maddie Hayes and Troi? Forgotten. And Carol Brady behind China Beach, ER, SVU, Alias, Parks and Recreation, Battlestar Galactica, Melrose Place, and Missy Piggy/Carrie Bradshaw. Then you've got Laverne & Shirly, June Cleaver, Samantha Stephens, and Ethel Mertz ixed in with those?.

March 08 2011 at 2:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
You've got IT!

Sydney may have remained a nice, relatively sane woman devoted to family and friends but... someone else didn't.

March 08 2011 at 12:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hutch

I have a problem with Gillian Anderson losing out to anyone with the possible exception of Lucy. I was a little young to remember the "I Love Lucy" show but I remember everyone's parents wanting to get home and watch it. Who in the hell judges these things. Mostly I remember my friend saying "hey you gonna be home for the X-Files?" and me saying "Na, dude just please tape the parts with Gillian in them and I'll figure out the plot if it seems important."

March 07 2011 at 8:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ny83151

Where the hell is Catherine Willows from CSI? Pretty lame list.

March 07 2011 at 7:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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