For International Women’s Day, we are celebrating animated female characters that have captured our hearts. These characters break barriers in the animation world with their compelling personalities and arcs. From our favorite childhood heroes to more complex female protagonists today, these characters have inspired and left a mark for generations to come. Here are the 10 best female characters from iconic movies and TV shows who are perfect role models. 

Katara From Avatar: The Last Airbender 

Katara from Avatar: The Last Airbender looking fierce when fighting with Master Pakku in Book 1: Water

Katara from Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of the best well-written female characters in animation. As the last waterbender in her tribe who lost her mother to a Fire Nation raid at a young age, Katara assumes a responsible, motherly role within Team Avatar. Throughout the series, she helps others whenever she can and becomes a true waterbender master.

Chihiro Ogino From Spirited Away 

Chihiro with the dragon form of Haku from Spirited Away (2001)

Chihiro Ogino is a likable and memorable protagonist in Spirited Away, Studio Ghibli’s magnum opus. She starts the film as a frightened child trying to navigate the spirit world to save her parents. Throughout her journey, she encounters challenges and forms allies with different spirits that allow her to grow as a person. By the film’s end, she becomes a braver young girl through courage and compassion. 

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Fa Mulan From Mulan 

Fa Mulan smiling while holding a chest given by the emperor for saving China.

Mulan is one of the strongest female protagonists to come out of Disney’s animated canon. She subverts the norms of her society by dressing up as a man to take her father’s place in the army. Throughout her journey, she showcases bravery and intelligence to not only protect herself but the people she cares for. Even when her true gender is discovered, she never gives up and does everything to protect her country. 

Moana From Moana 

Image of Moana smiling i in Moana (2016)

Moana represents the latest in a line of modern Disney female characters who exhibit remarkable courage and strength. She is drawn to the ocean and adventure but is forbidden to cross the riff to fulfill her duty as the island’s chief. However, she goes on a journey through the sea with the demigod Maui to return the heart of Te Fiti. During her journey, she displays leadership and bravery to protect her people. Moana is the best recent female protagonist to come out of Disney. 

Usagi Tsukino From Sailor Moon 

Usagi Tsukino from Sailor Moon (1992) showing off her original pose as she transforms into Sailor Moon

Usagi Tsukino from Sailor Moon is the most iconic female character in the history of anime. Initially, she starts as an immature, lazy teenage girl who wants to read manga instead of studying for school. She soon becomes more courageous through her new identity as Sailor Moon. Her leadership, friendships with the other sailor scouts and battles against her enemies showcase tremendous growth.

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Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup From The Powerpuff Girls 

Promo image of Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup from The Powerpuff Girls

Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup, known as The Powerpuff Girls, prove that girls can be superheroes. They are Professor Utonium’s creations, who strove to create the perfect little girls. Instead, he accidentally added Chemical X, causing them to develop powers. Throughout the series, the girls use those powers to fight crime and save the city of Townsville.  

Kim Possible From Kim Possible 

Kim Possible showing off her signatue pose in the theme song of Kim Possible (2002)

Kim Possible is one of the fiercest and most relatable female characters from the Disney Channel original series Kim Possible. During the show, she tries her best to balance her school life and solve crimes with her best friend, Ron Stoppable. Kim showcases strength and intelligence in her missions but still faces the challenges of being a teenager.  

Diane Nguyen From BoJack Horseman

Image of Diane Nguyen from Bojack Horseman (2014)

Diane Nguyen from the Netflix original series BoJack Horseman is a nuanced character. She was introduced as a ghostwriter for BoJack Horseman’s new memoir. Throughout the show, her arc focuses on her relationships, writing and depression. Her personal growth and struggles with mental health make her relatable and realistic.  

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Vi From Arcane 

Image of Vi from the Netflix Original, Arcane (2021)

The Netflix original series Arcane does a fantastic job depicting strong female characters, especially the main protagonist, Vi. In the first season, Vi is shown to be a strong-willed person who doesn’t let anyone step in her way. However, she is also protective and courageous. Vi is a perfect example of a well-written female character in recent media. 

Mizu From Blue Eye Samurai 

An image of Mizu from the Netflix original, Blue Eye Samurai (2023)

Mizu is the latest female protagonist in the Netflix revenge thriller Blue Eye Samurai. Mizu is a mixed-race female warrior who is on a quest for vengeance against four white men, including her father. At the beginning of the season, Mizu is mostly known as a strong-willed and cold-hearted fighter, but she slowly becomes more accepting of others. Mizu is the perfect example of how to write a protagonist in an action movie or TV show.  

RELATED: Check out more articles about amazing women for International Women’s Day here!

What is your favorite female character from this list? Are there other female characters in animation you love? Let us know in the comments! 

This article was originally published on March 7, 2024. 

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