I am so sorry for being so late! I have been really busy and frankly, forgot about this post. But it’s here!
Honorable mention: Shado, Arrow
1. Molly Hooper, Sherlock
In the first season of Sherlock, Molly appears to just be a kind girl who has a crush on Sherlock. However, in season 2, she proves to be resilient and steady; she’s one of the few people Sherlock has ever apologized to after he hurts her feelings. Not just anyone can say that Sherlock Holmes has apologized to them. Besides, she also dated the world’s greatest criminal mastermind and didn’t die, she went through medical school (she clearly has some brains) and works with corpses on a daily basis. And in Reichenbach, she’s one of the people Sherlock trusts with his grand plan. Molly is a character who is beloved by many, yet has a lot of haters, mainly because of her crush on Sherlock. I find that reason stupid; most women (and most men too) have had crushes on people and gotten a little in over their heads because of it. Does that invalidate their strength of character? No. That’s why I feel as though Molly is actually quite relatable and is a much stronger character than most people think.
2. Joss Carter, Person of Interest,
Carter is a police detective who always has her morals in check. She’s often hell-bent on finding the perpetrator of whatever crime she’s investigating. Even early on, when she was trying to track down John Reese, the protagonist, I couldn’t hate her; mainly I was surprised at how stubborn she was. But there’s another reason she’s strong; she was able to change her state of mind and became an important ally for Reese and Finch, even though she started out as their enemy. Carter seems to be quite underrated when put into comparison of the other lead female characters, Root and Shaw, which I find too bad. I found Carter to be the heart of the show in some ways; she portrayed strong morals and a kind heart, all the while being sharp and motivated in solving crimes. She’s saved the main characters several times, and while she does bend the rules at times, she always sticks to what she believes is right.
3. Donna Noble, Doctor Who
I remember when Donna first appeared in Doctor Who; I didn’t like her. She was way too in your face, always had something to say. But by the end of the episode, I was pleasantly surprised by her character development, and at the end of season 4, I can say I think Donna had the best character development of all the companions. She had amazing resilience from the start; in her first episode, she had an awful wedding day; her fiancé was cheating on her with an alien (and plotted to kill her), she vanished on the altar and came face to face with The Doctor (who was an emotional wreck after Doomsday), and when she vanished, no one thought to look for her; instead, they partied. Yet she still saves the Doctor that day, rather than falling apart. Later, it’s revealed she suffers emotional and mental abusive from her mother, and the only person to truly show her love is her grandfather. And while Donna does amazing things with the Doctor, she thinks of herself as nothing. Despite her horrible self-esteem, she saves so many lives, including the Doctor’s, and slowly gains confidence.
4. Madoka Kaname, Puella Magi Madoka Magica
At first, Madoka just seems like the classic sweet main character: naive, gentle, and has a small group of friends. But as the true nature of the anime is revealed, she is shown to be much tougher than she looks. Madoka has to see a friend die, see another friend become involved in a deadly rivalry with another magical girl, and sees that same friend crumble into depression, all while being unable to help without sacrificing something very important. While she may not be involved in the center of the events of the story, she clearly shows guilt over what is happening. Some fans criticize Madoka for her lack of involvement and for her tearful nature. I actually think her tears make her stronger: I’ve learned that it’s better to react in the moment rather than hide true feelings. It can help prevent mental illness. And don’t get me started on what she does in the last episode. She’s so selfless, and is truly the most powerful magical girl of all.
5. Caitlin Snow, The Flash
Caitlin has gone through way too much in the first two seasons alone. I’m really surprised no one has recommended she go to a counselor after all that’s happened. Not only is she an important asset to the Flash and therefore been targeted by villains numerous times, she lost her fiancé, found him, except he was very different, then saved him, then lost him again, was backstabbed by a close friend, was eventually abducted and held against her will by that friend, and clearly has some PTSD. Yet she’s resilient and does not allow herself to break down. She remains brave and compassionate, and doesn’t allow her experiences to control her. I dunno about the fandom, but I quite like Caitlin; she’s kind, smart, and refuses to let the past change her negatively.