The definition of “unstoppable” is simply and obviously, “not able to be stopped.” But when I was thinking of people who fit into this category, I realized it wasn’t just women who could not be stopped, but women who would not be stopped. Not able, and not WILLING to be stopped. The difference is admittedly subtle, linguistically, but a slightly bigger one in definition. A conductor-less train hurtling toward Wile E. Coyote cannot be stopped. The Road Runner WILL not be stopped.
Anyway, here is an extremely incomplete list, in no particular order, of unstoppable women on television right now. Whether it was to keep fighting, keep surviving, or just keep going, these women have proven, time and time again, that they cannot and will not be stopped.
(p.s. I made you an Unstoppable playlist to listen to while you read. You’re welcome.)
Nyssa al Ghul (Arrow)
Nyssa has not had it easy, from being raised by the League of Assassins to having her girlfriend brutally murdered to being forced to marry not only a man but a man she hates (partially for being her dead girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend). But she will not be broken. She was put in a cage, robbed of her rightful place as heir by her father, chased and hunted, but she stayed strong. Most importantly, she was told time and time again that her love for Sara was weakness, but Nyssa will tell anyone who will listen that Sara was her beloved and she continues to fight for justice for Sara’s death.
Bonus unstoppability: Nyssa is training Laurel Lance so that Laurel might someday be at least half as unstoppable as she is. (Arrow, despite having committed the Unforgivable Curse lesbiaci homicidium, does have a wealth of badass ladies on the show, from intellectually strong like Felicity to physically strong like Thea, and all of them strong of will and personality.)
Arizona Robbins & Callie Torres (Grey’s Anatomy)
This is a twofer because they’re both from the same show but they’re both unstoppable. Arizona was in a plane crash, lost her leg, came back from a trip to find her girlfriend got pregnant while she was gone, had a miscarriage, and that was all on top of the daily trials and tribulations that come with being a doctor at Seattle Grace Mercy West Gray Sloan Memorial Hospital for the Unluckiest People on the Planet. And Callie has been through all that and more; she has loved and lost more times that a person should ever have to endure, was the one Arizona blamed for her leg being cut off, got cheated on, lost a husband and a baby daddy/best friend, and came out to her father with not-so-great results.
Between the two of them, they’ve lived at least 10 lifetimes of hurt—yet they still go on. They still smile and they still work and they still save lives every single day. Together or apart, they are unstoppable.
Eleanor Guthrie (Black Sails)
Eleanor Guthrie cannot take a day off. She’s a woman in charge in a man’s world, so she has to prove herself day in and day out. She can show no signs of weakness. And she’s not only the victim of an unfortunate place and time, but she’s also in an unforgiving trade. 99.9% of pirates are men, and 98% of those men are animals or criminals or both. Not to mention she is always trying to get out from under her father’s shadow (well, was), trying to make her name mean more than “Guthrie” ever had before. She is determined to make Nassau a better place, and she will move hell and high water to make it happen, even if it means sacrificing her own happiness with Max (who is an unstoppable woman in her own right).
And she does it all while wearing a skirt.
Clarke Griffin (The 100)
The 100 is another show not lacking in badass ladies, but Clarke really stands out for me. I knew she was different, special, with the very first order she gave (telling fellow teenagers to buckle the fuck up). She was bold, she was brave, she was determined. Fueled by a survival instinct and the protective tendencies of a territorial lion, Clarke is never afraid to make the hard choices, even if it means sacrificing something (or someone) for the greater good. While some teenagers can barely be bothered to care about a peer getting bullied, Clarke Griffin will risk her life for her peers, for her friends. She even walked away from a chance at love in an attempt to stop wearing her heart on her sleeve and be as hard as her role as unofficial leader of the Sky People requires.
Gail Peck (Rookie Blue)
15 Division is the Grey Sloan Memorial of police departments. If something bad could happen to a police officer, it has happened to one of the 15 Division cops, usually the rookies. Gail is no exception. Probably the worst of what has happened to her since graduating from the academy was that one time she went undercover and got abducted by a sadistic psychopath, and her rescue culminated in her fellow cop/ex-boyfriend getting killed.
Aside from seeing the horrible things she sees every day on the job, Gail had her heart broken (by her own self, mostly) at the end of her and Holly’s relationship, and just when they started to work things out again, Holly announced she was moving. But through everything, through meltdowns and mood swings, Gail stayed Gail. Snarky and biting and a big, warm heart beneath her decidedly cold veneer.
Peggy Carter (Agent Carter)
Everyone else on this list is on the LGBT spectrum, but while Peggy hasn’t yet been confirmed to be on the spectrum, it also hasn’t been confirmed that she ISN’T, and she’s one of the most badass fictional women the likes of television has ever seen, so I’m putting her here. Peggy Carter was essentially demoted from Captain America’s right-hand-woman to a regular ol’ gal Friday when Cap fell out of the sky. Despite her obvious qualifications, misogyny and sexism try their hardest to get her down. But she will not be defeated. She proves her worth, and the badassery they won’t let her show at work, she does in her own time, single-handedly taking down bad guy after bad guy without a hair falling out of place. She is physically and emotionally shot at on the regular, but still she fights. Slowly but surely, the people who know her are starting to catch on, and soon everyone will know the world’s wisest mantra: Do as Peggy says.
Bo Dennis (Lost Girl)
Bo Dennis is physically powerful, with her powers of manipulation, soul sucking, and healing-by-orgasm, but her strength goes beyond her succubus status. She spent a good chunk of her life learning how to survive on her own, feeling like a freak, but she never gave up. And when she found a community of people like her, she loved them with her whole self. She protects them at all costs, and has literally gone to hell and back for them.
She has been through relationship drama, family drama (aka finding out her dad may or may not be Hades), and plenty of fae drama, but she keeps on keeping on, with that classic Bo determination, cleavage, and everlasting snark.
Sophia Burset (Orange is the New Black)
Okay, so all the women on OITNB are strong in their own ways, but Sophia’s strength always impressed me. She has been refused the hormones she needs to be who she is, she has faced her son hating her, her wife being difficult, constant ignorance and transmisogyny from guards and fellow inmates—and that’s only what she’s had to deal with AFTER she was locked up.
But Sophia isn’t the type to sulk in a corner and feel sorry for herself. Not only does she keep on smiling and holding her head high, but she also helps her fellow inmates. Prison conditions don’t exactly allot for feelings of confidence or beauty, but Sophia does her part to make her fellow inmates feel a little better about themselves by doing their hair. Even stone-faced Red felt better with a fresh new ‘do. What’s more, she gladly takes on the role so many hairdressers do, and plays makeshift therapist to everyone who sits in her chair. In prison, most people just look out for #1, which is understandable when you could be in danger at any turn. But not Sophia. She looks out for herself, sure, but she doesn’t knock over anyone else while she does it.
Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)
I know Tatiana herself isn’t a fictional character, but she plays so many characters that are strong and fierce fighters and survivors, and does it while staying humble, sweet, and smiley, I think she qualifies. The Leda clones on Orphan Black have had a lot thrown at them in a short amount of time. At any point, they could give up—succumb to whatever the DYAD wanted, run away, get plastic surgery—but they don’t. They stay and they fight. Even Alison, who has successfully albeit probably temporarily removed herself from the DYAD drama, doesn’t back down when faced with a bad rap from her bout with addiction, doesn’t let her idiot husband run the show, and will literally kill to protect her family. She will be queen of the suburbs, no matter what. Sarah still fights for answers, for Helena, for Kira, despite getting beaten down, literally and metaphorically, time and time again. Girlfriend always has a gun pressed to her head. Helena is fighting against her very nature to be less of a ruthless assassin and more of a food processor to be there for her sestras; and currently, is trying to find the balance of humanity and animal to escape imprisonment. Cosima still fights for a cure, for science, for her sisters, for love.
Emily Fields (Pretty Little Liars)
Emily Fields another one that is physically and emotionally unstoppable. She’s been through a lot, what with someone trying to murder her at every turn. She has had GLASS IN HER HAIR, gotten dunked in a pool, had her sports cream poisoned, been put through a buzzsaw, gotten kidnapped by a doll, had a car drive through her living room, and you may have heard, she killed a guy.
And that’s only the physical stuff. Her emotional life has been no picnic either. She has had two girlfriends die, and one who come back to life; one girlfriend who was criminally boring in comparison, one who got kidnapped and then escaped to California; and one who ended up being married who didn’t much care for her empanadas. Plus she had normal teenage stuff going on at the same time, like coming out and passing the one class she actually had to attend because her friend’s boyfriend and mom taught the class.
Probably the most unstoppable thing about Emily is her relentless optimism, her determination to see the good in people, the fact that she’s loyal to a fault. But she is not afraid to fight what she believes in, to stick up for her friends or her undead ex-girlfriends if it means being on the side of truth. She will pick up any random object for a weapon, and she will enter a beauty pageant to support her best friend. I guess what I’m trying to say is, Emily Fields can open her own damn door.
And this list, like I said, is incomplete. These are just some of the women on television shows right now that are kicking ass and taking names, literally and figuratively. And with shows like SuperGirl coming out next year, the list is about to get even longer. I hope this is the beginning of an uptrend in women who pass the Bechdel test on the regular, who don’t exist just as plot vehicles or love interests for men, women who are strong and fierce and stubborn and flawed and fighters for whatever it is they believe in.
In the words of Walter Bankston: “Females are strong as hell.”
Who are your favorite unstoppable ladies on TV?