Skip To Content
  • International Women's Day badge

18 Female Side Characters Who Were Waaay More Interesting Than The Lead Characters

She is beauty, she is grace, she...should've been the main character.

1. Hermione Granger, the Harry Potter franchise

Warner Bros / ©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

It's not a new or unpopular opinion to note that — if he'd never met Hermione — Harry would've, instead, been known as: "The Boy Who Died In Some Stupid, Preventable Way." Throughout the franchise, Hermione is easily the character with the most agency. Things don't just happen TO her, she MAKES things happen FOR her and her friends. Her story as a muggle-born witch is intriguing, and it could've been cool to see a standard "Chosen One" tale told from the non–Chosen One's perspective. Plus, she's low-key hilarious and doesn't get enough credit (I say "I'M NOT AN OWL," like, three times a week.)

2. Valkyrie, Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

© Marvel / © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection

Yes, I know that the movie is titled Thor: Ragnarok, but it should've been titled Valkyrie and Oh Yeah, Thor Is Also Here because she STOLE THE SHOW. Her backstory as a protector of the realm who lost loved ones to the main villain is weighty and incredibly interesting, she's more badass than Thor, Loki, AND the Hulk combined, and her character's arc is the crux of most of the film. Plus, I just, like, really love her, okay?

3. Dr. Jo Harding, Twister (1996)

©Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection

The framing of Twister is wacky confusing, because you THINK you're going to follow Jo (the movie quite literally opens with a flashback to her childhood trauma with weather), only for the movie to then frame itself around Bill Paxton's character (whose name is also Bill???). Jo is, overall, far more interesting, nuanced, and has more of a weight to pull in the story. Bill is just kind of...there. #JusticeForJo

4. O'Ren, Kill Bill (2003)

Miramax / ©Miramax/Courtesy Everett Collection

O'Ren kicks all kinds of ass all over the place, and I want to see her doing it in the SPOTLIGHT where she DESERVES TO BE. The little glimpse of her backstory that we DO get in the first Kill Bill is freakin' unbelievable, and I'd watch an entire movie of just her kicking all kinds of ass all over the place. Give! It! To! ME! Heck, give Gogo Yubari a movie, too, while we're at it!

5. Padmé Amidala, the Star Wars prequel trilogy

20thcentfox / ©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

Queen at 14, senator at 24, and slayer of all fashion at every age — Padmé is overall an underrated character, plain and simple. She deserved more screen time, period. Yes, I get that the whole point of the prequels was for them to function as a Darth Vader origin story, but we don't even START with Anakin anyway?! We meet baby Anakin like a third of the way into the Phantom Menace! It would've been so much more interesting to frame the movies around Padmé — who is, in fact, Luke and Leia's mom — so she's just as important to their story setup as Anakin was.

6. Princess Leia, the Star Wars trilogy

LucasFilm Ltd.

SPEAKING OF STAR WARS: In a similar setup to Twister, we begin the film with Leia — tricking us into thinking she's the protagonist, when the story is then framed around Luke. And I enjoy Luke! He's...he's fine! But Leia's the best. She's hilarious, driven, and really only needed Han and Luke to unlock the door for her to escape — both literally and metaphorically. She did the rest! She rescued them! People love to pretend that she was some helpless damsel, when — if you bother to rewatch the original movie — the first thing she does when the boys come through to "save her" is roast them to high hell and then get them all outta there herself.

7. Gamora, Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Walt Disney Co. / ©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

Few Marvel characters deserve their own breakout movie as much as Gamora does — though Guardians of the Galaxy really should've been that to begin with. While you can certainly argue that it's a "team" film, making her just as much the main character as Star-Lord, there's no denying the film is clearly framed around him. Why? IDK. I want my Gamora standalone film.

8. Aurora Lane, Passengers (2016)

Jaimie Trueblood. ©Columbia Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection


This movie would've been 20 times better if 1) Aurora was the main character, and 2) It was framed as a straight-up horror movie, instead of a romance(?). The plot twist in the third act is framed completely around Aurora's realization that Jim is the one who woke her from her pod — condemning her to a life alone with him because he's *checks notes* a straight-up predator — which would've been an even stronger twist if we'd been seeing the film through her eyes the entire time. Also, it's a freakin' horror movie. Ask any woman.

9. Hit-Girl, Kick-Ass (2010)

Lions Gate / ©Lions Gate/Courtesy Everett Collection

Storytime: When I was in college, I took some of my friends to see this on opening night and we got free shirts, but they were disappointed that we got Hit-Girl instead of Kick-Ass (since he's the main character). A couple of them talked about trading with the guys behind us, and I told them, "Just wait, you'll be happy these are the ones we got when the movie's over." Needless to say, they refused the trade afterwards. Yes, I know it's called Kick-Ass, but — let's be real — this movie belongs to Hit-Girl. The (not great) sequel caught onto this and was quick to try and reframe the story around her, but the first film should've just followed her to begin with!

10. Marion Ravenwood, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Paramount Pictures

MARION. FREAKIN'. RAVENWOOD. The light of my life. I'm biased for this one, as Raiders of the Lost Ark was one of the very first movies I remember seeing as a child (thanks for the face-melting nightmares, Mom and Dad!) and I wanted to be her SO. BAD. She's a wonderfully well-rounded character — strong when it's necessary, vulnerable when she's with someone she trusts, both afraid and fearless always — just like real women are. Indy didn't deserve her, and I stand by that.

11. Princess Jasmine, Aladdin (1992)

Walt Disney Co. / ©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

Princess "I Am Not a Prize to Be Won!" Jasmine is an icon. While the story is framed around Aladdin, Jasmine is both inciting the incident and the entire character arc for Aladdin — but is given so much agency in the story that it should've been entirely her's. She's a top-tier Disney princess!

12. Chenille Reynolds, Save the Last Dance (2001)

Paramount Pictures

Kerry Washington has stolen the spotlight in every movie or TV show she's ever been in, but that all started with Save the Last Dance. Her character, Chenille, is easily the character with the most to gain or lose in the film, and yet she's relegated to the sidelines. I want to see more about her life, who she is, and the movie in general through HER eyes. If there's ever a remake, let's do that, and you could 100% still cast Kerry in the same role because she still looks like a teenager (drop that skincare routine, Kerry!).

13. Poison Ivy, Batman & Robin (1997)

Warner Bros / ©Warner Bros / courtesy Everett Collection / Everett Collection

I'll keep this one brief: I do not care about Batman and/or Robin at all in a film literally titled Batman & Robin. I ONLY care about Ivy, who later becomes Poison Ivy. She's camp personified and I want her to have a standalone movie, stat. That's all. Get on this, DC. I'll wait.

14. Kathryn Merteuil, Cruel Intentions (1999)

Columbia Pictures

Sometimes, a female character is pushed to side status based only on the fact that they're "the villain," and this is a perfect example. Kathryn is LIGHT YEARS more interesting than her stepbrother, and I'd much rather see the whole "bet" from her side of things. While she's conniving, manipulative, and snarky — those qualities would've made for an incredibly interesting main character instead of...whatever her brother was. Also, THE. OUTFITS. THOUGH.

15. Aibileen Clark and Minny Jackson, The Help (2011)

Walt Disney Co. / ©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

Here's maybe the most obvious film in need of a story perspective switch on this list. It makes little to no sense that this story be told through anyone else's eyes but these two — since it's, ya know, quite literally about THEIR story. Viola and Octavia are both powerhouses in this movie, and it's unfortunate that they're relegated to the side characters in their own story.

16. Dr. Ellie Sattler, Jurassic Park (1993)

©Universal / courtesy Everett Collection

God creates man. Man writes Jurassic Park. Man makes Jurassic Park a movie. Woman outshines every man in said movie. Woman inherits the movie/Earth. That's how that quote goes, right? Anyway, Ellie is the best character in the movie (second only to the T-Rex — who is also a lady). She's quick-thinking, passionate, and — yeah, I'll say it — a '90s style icon. Just look at that coral and purple get-up! TikTok is QUAKING (or is that a T-Rex approaching, I can't tell).

17. Domino, Deadpool 2 (2018)

Photo Credit: Joe Lederer / 20th Century Fox Licensing/Merchandising / Everett Collection

No, it is not Domino who is the "lucky" one — it's us, the audience, for we were graced with her presence. I've been OBSESSED with Zazie Beetz's portrayal of Domino since before this movie even came out, and my obsession has persisted long after its release. Sure, Wade Wilson is fun and all, but I want to see more Domino. Let Deadpool be the side character for once!

18. And finally — Princess Fiona, Shrek (2000)

Dreamworks / ©DreamWorks/Courtesy Everett Collection

I know, I know, ending on a (maybe) controversial note, but listen — it's just a fact. Fiona's story is so interesting and her curse puts forth a need for her to learn about self-love and self-acceptance in a similar way to Shrek, but her story also involves being taken as a child and freakin' trapped in a tower by a big-ass, strangely horny dragon. I want to see that story in full! No offense, Shrek. I guess you could say that this her story just has more.................layers.

Who are some female characters you believe should've been the main character of their movies? Share in the comments below! Oh, and Happy International Women's Month!!!

TV and Movies

Get all the best moments in pop culture & entertainment delivered to your inbox.

Newsletter signup form