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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

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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.

2. Beatrice 'Tris' Prior

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Tris is brave - she lets guys throw knives at her head to prove such things. Dangerous because she’s got all the feels, but awesome at the fighting, so y’know... let’s keep her around.

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

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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

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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.

7. Lisbeth Salander

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The cleverest gal on our list, she can find out anything about anyone. Tough as nails no matter what comes at her, she has no respect for your password protected encryption nonsense.

8. Buffy Summers

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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

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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

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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

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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.

13. Kat Stratford

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A gal not to be tamed but congratulated for not following the crowd, being a good influence on her little sister and inspiring one of the best impromptu musical numbers in recent film history.

14. Roberta from The Railway Children

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A rock for her mother and siblings, and loved by all she meets, Bobby is resourceful, kind and even manages to look good in this hat. The coolest train spotter ever.

15. Luna Lovegood

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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

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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.

18. Scout Finch

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Scout is a heroine because even though she is exposed to prejudice and evil she manages to retain the hope that good will overcome. She also has the best dad in the history of dads.

19. Brienne of Tarth

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Brienne is a badass. She’s tough, loyal, and takes everything Jamie Lannister throws at her and manages not to kill him. When it comes to a fight you definitely want her on your team.

20. Elizabeth Bennett

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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

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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.

22. Margaery Tyrell

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Let’s face it, you have to be quite a woman to take on evil personified and win, but Margaery seems able to handle Joffrey… Ambitious, clever, and kind, what can’t she do?

23. Mary Lennox

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The most green-fingered of our heroines, Mary changes a whole household’s fortunes by rediscovering the Secret Garden and getting Colin to embrace life, instead of be defeated by it.

24. Cersei Lannister

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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.