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October 10, 2015

Our Bad! The Women We Left Off the Top 100 Female Characters List

by Kelly Woo, posted Mar 4th 2011 2:00PM
Ann Marie Marlo Thomas That GirlWhen we released our list of the top 100 female TV characters of all time, we knew there were egregious omissions, some which pained individual TV Squad editors personally.

We spent many, many hours debating who should go on the list, where various characters should rank and who should be named No. 1. Tears were shed, blood nearly was and longstanding collegial relations threatened to turn rancorous.

Readers often ask us how we came up with lists like these, and honestly, it's more of an art, not a science. We wish there was a formula, but for the top 100 women list, we considered many factors: timelessness, iconicity, cultural impact, popularity, uniqueness. We also sought to represent different genres, time periods, professions and ages. Soap characters, young girl characters and characters from British shows were all excluded (the first two groups will get their own sidebar lists!). And at the end of the day, it's our list, informed by our preferences -- so many of our personal favorites rose up very high in the rankings.

But, we can admit we messed up in some cases. Marlo Thomas, you're totally right about Ann Marie. Mea culpa. And that's just one shameful snub pointed out by our bloggers and readers. So here's our "oops" list of (some) overlooked female characters ... No doubt, there are more!

Ann Marie, 'That Girl' | Played by Marlo Thomas
Marlo Thomas' signature role was one of the characters our readers were most shocked about being off the list. Chalk this up to a case of a big hole in our collective psyche, because it feels shocking that we all forgot about Ann Marie. Why? Because she was an actress and model, struggling to make a living on her own in New York in the late '60s, right as the women's liberation movement was gaining steam. Sure, Anne Marie had a devoted boyfriend in Don (Ted Bessell), but they both spent the bulk of the series resisting the lure of cohabitation and marriage. In the fifth and final season, Don finally asked Ann to marry her, but the series didn't end in a wedding, because Thomas felt that it would send the wrong message. -- Joel Keller

Julie Cooper The OCJulie Cooper, 'The O.C.' | Played by Melinda Clarke
We definitely should have included Marlo Thomas (seriously, how did we miss that?), and I regret not finding a way to justify Carol Burnett (our list was scripted/fictional, and Burnett shined as many different characters on her variety show). But there's one (kinda cheesy) personal pick didn't make the cut: Julie Cooper (Melinda Clarke) from 'The O.C.' She was totally over the top, a terrible mother and a back-stabbing friend, but she was one of the guiltiest pleasures primetime soaps ever had to offer. -- Sandy Deane

Aeryn Sun, 'Farscape' | Played by Claudia Black
One of the best because she's not just a great sci-fi lady, capable of slaying evil aliens and outwitting devious bad guys, she went on a great emotional journey during 'Farscape's four seasons and post-cancellation miniseries. As half of one of TV's great love stories and as a woman figuring out how to open her heart, Officer Sun and the woman who played her, Claudia Black, deserve not just our attention but our accolades. -- Mo Ryan

Calamity Jane, 'Deadwood' | Played by Robin Weigart
One of the most indelible, striking, unique and quotable characters in all of television, and one of the best shows ever. As a huge 'Deadwood' fan, I brought her name up several times, but alas, had no allies to back me up. She was tough as nails, but tenderhearted (witness her care of the orphaned Sofia!). I miss her swagger and sarcasm. Oh, HBO, if only you'd kept your word and made those two follow-up movies! (Sniff) -- Kelly Woo

Darlene Conner, 'Roseanne' | Played by Sara Gilbert
Before Daria, Darlene was TV's original smart, sullen, teen girl. She was a sensitive, artistic soul who protected her vulnerable side with a constant barrage of snark bombs dropped on her shallower siblings, her overbearing mom, and even her devoted boyfriend. She wasn't exactly a Riot Grrrl, but Darlene rocked. -- Gary Susman

Shane The L WordShane McCutcheon, 'The L Word' | Played by Katherine Moennig
All of the main characters on 'The L Word' were memorable for the simple fact that we'd never seen a show populated by gay, bisexual and transgender women before. But Shane McCutcheon, the lesbian hairdresser portrayed by Katherine Moennig, stood out. She was hot, she slept around and she remains the most unashamedly sexual female character we've ever seen on television. -- Christine Champagne

Aunt Bee, 'The Andy Griffith Show' and 'Mayberry R.F.D.' | Played by Frances Bavier
She was the best aunt the world has ever known. Andy, Opie and the entire town of Mayberry counted on her to be the voice of reason and the lovable caretaker. The planet would be a better place if everybody had an Aunt Bee. -- Pat Gallagher

Emily Hartley, 'The Bob Newhart Show' | Played by Suzanne Pleshette
If you were looking for a liberated woman in the mid-1970s on TV, but were turned off by the overly aggressive Maude, you gravatated to 'The Bob Newhart Show' and enjoyed the subtle feminine wiles of Emily Hartley. Emily was both a homemaker and a professional woman -- a teacher -- but she was not a mother. Children weren't a part of the Hartley marriage and it was a choice, not a situation. Emily and Bob were happy together as romantic grown ups in a loving relationship. -- Allison Waldman

Jackie Peyton, 'Nurse Jackie' | Played by Edie Falco
Showtime has cornered the market on mad, medicated matriarchs who are nobody's role models (see Nancy Botwin, Tara Gregson, Fiona Gallagher), but the one you'd want on hand in an emergency is this lioness. The two-timing, pill-popping, authority-flouting Jackie isn't the most likable character on paper, yet Falco makes her not only sympathetic but also hilarious. -- Gary Susman

Facts of LifeBlair Warner, Jo Polniaczek, Natalie Green and Tootie Ramsey, 'The Facts of Life' | Played by Lisa Whelchel, Nancy McKeon, Mindy Cohn and Kim Fields
There was the snobby one; the tough one; the shy, but witty one; and the sassy one: Together, the girls of Eastland had an unbreakable bond that helped shape an entire generation of young women, helping them take both the "good" and the "bad" twists that life has to offer. -- Van Sias

Leticia "Buddy" Lawrence, 'Family' | Played by Kristy McNichol.
In the '90s, it was Angela Chase. In the 1970s, pre-teens and teens suffered along with Pasadena's Buddy Lawrence. A daring role -- and show -- for its time, Buddy idolized her college dropout brother, occasionally talked back to her parents (which would elicit "Leticia!" from Kate and Doug), and, just like Angela, wondered just how far to go with her boyfriend (played by Leif Garrett). The role won McNichol two Emmys. -- Jane Murphy

Lois Griffin, 'Family Guy' | Voiced by Alex Borstein
Marge Simpson might have been first, but don't discount Lois Griffin of 'Family Guy.' The target of endless abuse at the hand of her son Stewie and husband Peter, her family once shoved her into a trunk and drove her into a lake. Her baby's first goal in life was to kill her. Somehow she rises above it all. Not without some memorable breakdowns. What's mothering without the ability to completely unravel? -- Amy Kuperinsky

Christie Love, 'Get Christie Love!' | Played by Teresa Graves
You're under arrest, Sugar! How could we have left Christie Love off the list? Teresa Graves played the sassy undercover detective in the short-lived 1970s series 'Get Christie Love!' Graves made TV history in the role, which marked the first time a black woman headlined an hour-long drama. -- Christine Champagne

Gabrielle, 'Xena: Warrior Princess' | Played by Renee O'Connor
There would be no 'Xena' without Gabrielle, that's for sure. The character was played expertly by Renee O'Connor. She effortlessly played the emotional backbone of the series. Gabrielle went from peasant girl to kick-butt warrior before viewers' eyes. The success of the show and Xena's iconic status would've never happened if she never had Gabrielle. -- Chris Harnick

Shirley PartridgeShirley Partridge, 'The Partridge Family' | Played by Shirley Jones
How could we forget 'Partridge Family' matriarch Shirley Partridge. Not only was she a single mother of five, but she also performed with the band and drove the tour bus. All this while remaining a cool and fashionable mother of the 1970s. Let's see Roseanne or Peg Bundy to that! -- Rich Keller

Juliet Burke, 'Lost' | Played by Elizabeth Mitchell
One of the most intelligent characters of this decade, Dr. Juliet Burke was a complicated woman who played a pivotal role in two of 'Lost's' central themes: island infertility and time travel. At first her actions were questionable and her behavior was mysterious. But Juliet was always motivated by love; first for her sister and nephew back home, and later for Sawyer on the island. Juliet's surprising demise down the Swan hatch shaft remains one of the most visceral and emotional deaths in television history. -- Jo Garfein

Laura Petrie, 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' | Played by Mary Tyler Moore
The show may have been called 'The Dick Van Dyke Show,' but it was the marriage of Rob and Laura Petrie that was the star. Laura was Rob's muse, his partner, the love of his life. Laura was a step beyond June Cleaver and yet still a wife, mother and homemaker, epitomizing what 1960s housewives wanted to be. She was beautiful, smart, a coast-to-coast big mouth ... and utterly relateable. -- Allison Waldman

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What about Babylon 5s Susan Ivanova?

April 12 2011 at 4:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What about the Charmed ones they are inspirational strong women why aren't they on the list.

April 03 2011 at 5:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What about Granny (Irene Ryan)? She's hysterical!

March 06 2011 at 6:03 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply


March 06 2011 at 1:08 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Good come back. You have righted some grievous wrongs.
Now did I miss Barbara Eden and the gal's from Gilligan's Island in my haste?

March 06 2011 at 1:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What about Sarah Jane Smith from Doctor Who. Or Fiona from Burn Notice.

March 06 2011 at 3:04 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Dang, they STILL left Carol Burnett off the list. How???

March 05 2011 at 7:28 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

What about Sabrina Duncan, the brainy angel from Charlie's Angels and Amanda King, the mother turned
agent in Scarecrow and Mrs. King both played by Kate Jackson.; also Sondra played by Jackee' Harry in 227,
Aunt Esther played by LaWanda Page in Sanford and Son. I think Lucy from I Love Lucy played by Lucille Ball should be no 1.

March 05 2011 at 3:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Where's Keri Russel's Felicity?

March 05 2011 at 12:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thanks for adding Aeryn Sun. No list is complete without her.

March 05 2011 at 9:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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