Looking up lists of strong female characters in on screen science fiction is getting easier—we have women like Samantha Carter of SG-1, Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica, and Princess Leia of Star Wars. What is sadly lacking are role models of older women still out there having adventures. While we have incredible male characters across science fiction representing the older population, apparently women vanish at 22 years old, or simply never age. I’d like to pay tribute to the courageous few who included action oriented middle aged women, and hope for more in the future! (No pun intended.)
10 Sister Clarice Willow / Caprica
While her fanaticism to the One led her down a dark path, she knew what she wanted and was not afraid to stand up and take it. Her character ended up influencing an entire generation, not to mention bringing a love of technology into the world of faith. She may not be a role model, but she is certainly a force to be reckoned with and comes across as a beautiful powerful woman.
9 Number 2 / The Prisoner
Managing to deceive a top spy is not easy—Number 2 successfully convinced Number 6 that she had nothing to do with the mysterious Village that had imprisoned him. Using charm and intelligence, she flawlessly got what she needed from him. Instead of simply leaving for her successor, she took the time to bake Number 6 a birthday cake to celebrate her victory. She did not need to resort to violence or aggression to win, and maintained a poised calm throughout her mission.
8 Ambassador Delenn / Babylon 5
She was willing to give up a position of power to do what she felt was right, even transforming her entire body as a result. Her wisdom, curiosity, and elegant precociousness combined into a woman who would not be easily denied.
7 Jessica Atreides / Children of Dune
After the death of her husband, she went on the run with her child, willing to do anything to keep them both alive. She thinks on her feet in dangerous situations, and has a good heart underneath all the politics. When her daughter was possessed, she managed to keep the loyal tribes together until her grandson took the throne.
6 Helen Cutter / Primeval
Although her methods can be seen as heartless, Helen saw a fabulous new world and wanted to explore it on her own terms. She is independent to a fault, filled with passion about science, and compassionate up to a point.
5 Barbara Wright / Doctor Who
Back when the show was black and white without its current cult following, there was a sassy teacher who ended up as one of the first companions. When The Doctor got out of line, she argued him down, and despite being basically kidnapped on the TARDIS, she managed to enjoy the adventures they had while on board. Think of her as an early and less vocal Donna Noble.
4 River Song / Doctor Who
Quite possibly the most exciting of older female characters, River is part Indiana Jones, part Trinity from the Matrix. She can take out an entire room with one sweep of her blaster, and is clever enough to know when to keep it holstered and negotiate instead. She is fearless, fully in command of her beauty, and proud of who she is.
3 Sarah Jane / Sarah Jane Adventures
While she certainly fit the mold of young and beautiful while on Doctor Who, Sarah Jane eventually got her own series for children that showed how a single middle aged woman can be curious and have adventures on her own. Due to her kindness, she soon attracted a group of enthusiastic children who followed her around. Instead of finding them irritating, Sarah Jane warmed to them and began including them in her investigations.
2 President Laura Roslin / Battlestar Galactica Re-imagined
Despite battling breast cancer, and being put into a position of leadership without warning, President Roslin stepped up to the challenge with grace and strength. She inspired a rag-tag fleet of refugees not to give up hope, made the tough decisions, and found love where she least expected it.
1 Captain Kathryn Janeway / Star Trek: Voyager
Love her or hate her, she changed Star Trek for women. We were not side pieces to be dotted about the bridge for decorative effect, we were leaders. She was truly a commander—making the difficult life-and-death decisions for her crew with wisdom and confidence. She was not a perfect leader, but she was both a woman and a captain, not to mention breaking the look of all women being 20 years old!