Joss Whedon’s top women characters – a birthday celebration


We’re not in the habit of recognizing famous men’s birthdays at, but this week we’re making an exception.

Wednesday, Joss Whedon turned 46 and to mark the occasion, asked readers to vote on his best work. I have a feeling that such a vote on this site would not even need to be multiple choice. I mean, hello Buffy.

At this writing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is leading the EW poll, but Dollhouse is a strong second, with Firefly not far behind.

We are grateful to Joss not only for the shows he created, but also for the amazing women characters within those shows. So as a birthday celebration for Mr. Whedon — and a present to ourselves — we decided to make a list of our own.

In the spirit of fairness, let’s agree right off the bat on Whedon’s No. 1 lesbians.

Willow Rosenberg and Tara Maclay (Buffy)

I loved Willow before I knew she was a lesbian because I love smart women, especially when they’re a bit geeky. When she fell for Tara, she moved to lesbian icon status. For two and a half seasons (with time off for a separation), Willow and Tara showed the TV world that lesbian romance is just as goofy and mushy and difficult as any other kind of love story. And every bit as real.

Buffy Summers (Buffy)

I saw the movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer sort of by accident and couldn’t get over how clever it was. Then the series was even better. But the hook, the strong thread that sustained the TV show for 144 episodes, was Buffy herself. We watched her come to accept her calling as a slayer, gathering a troupe of loyal friends and creepy enemies along the way. She was a reluctant role model, but a true hero. And she saved the world a lot.

Echo/ Caroline Farrell (Dollhouse)

Echo was a living doll. And that’s more than a pun, since echoes of her former life as Caroline kept emerging even as her personality was supposedly wiped away. As a doll, Echo had to play the part of lover, seeker, wife, corporate mediator and more, but she was ready to kick ass at the slightest threat. As Caroline gained more of Echo’s awareness, we watched her grow and change, eventually putting a plan in motion that would, yes, save the world.

Inara Serra (Firefly)

Sure, Inara was a Companion, which was a sort of high-class prostitute. But in Alliance society, Companions were classy, graceful and talented aristocrats who chose their own clients — men and women. Inara definitely was the most elegant and respectable person on the ship. Why she was even on Serenity was a mystery, and that made her character all the more fascinating.

Fred Burkle (Angel)

I wasn’t even a regular Angel watcher, but Fred was from Texas, y’all. The whole Pylea thing wasn’t her fault and once she realized that she wasn’t insane, Fred was unstoppable, scared of nothing. She was sort of the Willow of the Angel series, always the smartest person in the room. But she could take care of herself, too.

I just realized that I could do this forever. I haven’t even mentioned Adelle or Penny or Sierra or Glory or River. Joss has created so many incredible women characters that we could have a whole site dedicated just to them.

For now, let’s just get your list. Who are your favorite Joss Whedon women and why?

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