Fearless, formidable, and feisty, these 13 female anti-heroes and villains are some of the most badass (and ‘baddest’) women to ever grace our screens, both on television and in the movies. They’re fully fleshed-out characters who won’t take any crap from anybody. They’re ballsy and buck the stereotype of the doting and agreeable female lead, and if they have to break a few ankles (or sell some weed) to get things done, by god they’ll do it. This Holy Week, take a break from your regularly scheduled programming and take a page (or two) from these 13 un-saintly female characters.
1) Eleanor Shellstrop from The Good Place
Eleanor ticks all the boxes for someone who ostensibly should not end up in heaven: she’s mean to waiters, is extremely self-absorbed, and derives pure joy from the idea of people puking on rollercoasters. But due to a fuck-up, she ends up in The Good Place. But even if she was a human trash bag on Earth, Eleanor’s single-minded dedication in trying to earn her place in The Good Place, actually ends up making her a decent human being.
Eleanor says: “I once pretended to have a terminal illness to meet Scott Wolf at a Sunglass Hut. Victimless crime.”
2) Quinn and Rachel from Unreal
This powerful pair takes the term "ballsy" to uncharted heights. They do everything on their own terms, whether it’s fucking or fucking up, and they aren’t beholden to any man. While they might make questionable decisions on the reg and stirring up drama on their show Everlasting is not without its disasters, they do it with the kind of no-holds-barred chutzpah you’d expect from two empowered kweens (with a capital K) that you can’t help but root for them the entire way through.
Quinn says: “Why are you letting Adam get up all in your vag? He’s a prop, Rachel.”
Rachel syas: “That girl hates me. I made her shit her pants on television.”
3) Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones
If there were just one person on this list you wouldn't want to cross, it would be Cersei Lannister. Not only would she make it her personal mission to ruin your life, but your entire family and everyone you’ve ever known would go down too.
Cersei says: “The only way to keep your people loyal is to make certain they fear you more than they do the enemy.”
4) Rebecca Bunch from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
The antics of an emotionally unstable woman who quits her job in New York and moves to a small town in California to follow her high school ex-boyfriend would be really unsettling if it weren’t set against the sunny West Covina. It also has some of the best jokes on television today because emotional breakdowns are so much more fun when you couple them with musical theater.
Rachel says: “So I’ve decided to eat my feelings and it turns out my feelings are pork rinds, whoopee pies, mac and cheese. Yeah, I’m going full-on Cathy cartoon.”
5) Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
In the late ‘80s, Elvira became an icon of subversive humor and camp. She’s a criminally underrated comedian who’s up there with some of the greats and her film Elvira: Mistress of the Dark should not be slept on.
Elvira says: "There's nothing wrong with G-rated movies, as long as there's lots of sex and violence."
6) Nancy Botwin from Weeds
After her husband dies, Nancy Botwin pulls herself up by her bootstraps and decides to do what any other mother in her position would do: She starts growing and selling weed to provide for her kids. Sure, she might’ve fucked one too many Mexican drug dealers, but when life has you against the wall, shit can get crazy. And no one knows that better than Nancy.
Nancy says: “I grow and sell marijuana. It’s organic. It’s therapeutic. It’s of the earth. Like tomatoes.”
7) Piper Chapman from Orange is the New Black
After being imprisoned for money laundering, Piper Chapman finds out that you can actually live your best life behind bars. While she might look like an off-brand Taylor Swift, Piper proves with her time at Litchfield that she’s just as badass as the cholas and sisters she shares her cell with.
Piper says: “How am I supposed to prison-fight an old Russian lady with back problems?”
8) Mavis Gary from Young Adult
Further proof that not all protagonists should be likeable, Mavis Gary is a complicated woman. On the surface, she might seem like she’s got her life figured out: she has a nice apartment, a good job, and a cute dog companion. But all these trappings have left her unfocused and unsatisfied. To get out of this rut, she returns to her hometown to reunite with her high school boyfriend and break up his marriage. It’s the kind of misguided decision that might’ve seemed like a romantic grand gesture in your twenties, but in your late thirties, it's just sad.
Mavis says: “Sometimes in order to heal, a few people have to get hurt.”
9) Sadako from Ringu
The film that singlehandedly ruined wells for everyone, Sadako was proof that less could be more when it came to scaring the ever-loving shit out of a person. Armed with just some long-ass hair and a predisposition for crawling out of TVs, Sadako, and the Ring trilogy as a whole, reinvigorated the genre, ushering a new type of horror film that would spawn countless films that would try to mirror its success for years.
Sadako says: “…”
10) Veronica from Heathers
Although they’re often compared with each other, Clueless and Mean Girls had nothing on the endlessly quotable ’88 film Heathers. Somehow, high school group hierarchies and teenage homicide don’t quite measure up.
Veronica says: “It's one thing to want someone out of your life, but it's another thing to serve them a wake-up cup full of liquid drainer.”
11) Annie Wilkes from Misery
Before Robert De Niro’s turn as a crazed Giants fan and Erika Christensen’s iconic role as Jesse Bradford’s stalker in Swimfan, Kathy Bates set the bar to impossible heights when she inhabited the role of Annie Wilkes in the Stephen King thriller Misery.
Annie says: “I am your number one fan.”
12) Debbie Jellinsky from Addams Family Values
In a lot of ways, Joan Cusack’s Debbie Jellinsky was the best part of the Addams Family sequel. She had the best one-liners and her portrayal of a blonde woman on the verge would never be forgotten. Also, she will forever ruin Malibu Barbies for generations to come.
Debbie says: “So I killed. So I maimed. So I destroyed one innocent life after another. Aren't I a human being? Don't I yearn, and ache, and shop? Don't I deserve love... and jewelry?”
13) Ruth Patchett from She-Devil
After being jilted by her husband, Ruth Patchett (played by Roseanne Barr at the height of her fame and notoriety) gets revenge on him and the woman he leaves her for. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
Ruth says: “Poor Bob. I almost felt sorry for him. Almost.”