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25 Kick-Ass Heroines

Whether it's defying the conventions of their time or saving the planet, these are our top leading ladies.

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1. Hermione Granger

Hermione is an honest friend and awesome witch who'll never desert you even when certain doom is almost certainly lurking around the corner. Mean right hook, won’t let you copy her homework.

4. Celaena Sardothien

Celaena is an assassin, which makes her pretty darn cool, but she goes up against other assassins in a tournament for assassins to win her freedom! She’s also got a sword. Swords are cool.

5. Jo March

Jo turns down perfectly good marriage proposals because it’s not right for her, manages not to kill Amy (the most patience-testing of the Marches), and makes the boldest of fashion statements with a cropped haircut years before it was the thing.

Throwing shade before shade was being thrown.

6. Katniss Everdeen

The big sister we all want. Expert tree-climber and archer, Katniss outsmarts the game makers and manages to save a life in the process; has been known to ignite the odd revolution.

Woody Harrelson approves.

8. Buffy Summers

Oh Buffy, we'll love you always because while simultaneously saving the world every week (She's died twice. Beat that.), you were also dating wildly inappropriate people and hanging out with your gang, just like us. Thanks for the life lessons, B.

9. Arya Stark

Endlessly surprising the men she encounters, Arya is a tomboy who is having to grow up fast. Inventive, cunning, awesome, she quickly realises that royalty or not, some people just need to be hit with a massive stick.

11. Eowyn

Eowyn’s pretty cool to start with, all feisty and independent but she comes into her own when she sneaks into a battle to save mankind after being told to stay at home and knit (or the Middle Earth equivalent), and ends up being the secret weapon they didn’t know they needed! No man indeed!

12. Sookie Stackhouse

Sookie is sweet. She gives great advice (see above) and tries her best to look on the bright side, but then she also flouts convention, dates a vampire and Eric looks at her like this. Winning.

15. Luna Lovegood

Away with the fairies much of the time, Luna adds some much needed lightness when things get gloomy. She risks everything to help her friends out, capturing the heart of Neville Longbottom along the way, who grows into this fine figure of a man:

16. Paige Mahoney from The Bone Season

Cynical Paige is part of London’s criminal underground, an illegal clairvoyant who spends her time hacking people’s brains until her luck runs out and she’s arrested. When her entire existence is a crime, Paige’s strength and nerve are to be applauded.

20. Elizabeth Bennett

She runs people, runs through fields and muddies her hem! She refuses marriage proposals from slimy members of the clergy in the days when being a vicars wife was pretty darn near the dream for girls of her breeding! And she brushes off the hate… Miss Bennett, you rock!

21. Katsa of the Middluns

An expert killer, although tries to exercise restraint unless absolutely necessary, Katsa is dangerous, but a good egg once you get to know her, if you can get past how completely oblivious she is to other people’s feelings.

24. Cersei Lannister

The one we love to hate, Cersei is perhaps more villain than heroine but you have to admire her pluck. Questionable romantic inclinations and a penchant for cruelty aside, you’d be wise to have her on your side rather than against you.