Women in science fiction and fantasy films are free from stereotypical restraints often slapped on other female characters. In traditional sitcoms especially, women seem to be thrust into unoriginal character molds, either quirkily manic, the lovable hot girl whom all guys want or a passive aggressive, mean middle-aged mother.
Most female characters seen in science fiction tend to be more complex than that. They usually have complicated romantic storylines, just as in other dramas, and yes, they're often pretty hot, too. However, sci-fi writers tend to give women more credit for their intelligence, empathy and kick-ass abilities than writers of other series do.
The great thing about women in science fiction is the range of personalities that are represented. These women are often operating in outer space, such as the much praised Star Trek heroines Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager and Nyota Uhura, a character that made waves for being part of the first interracial kiss on television.
Storylines set in outer space actually provide a fantastical and fascinating place for a plot to unfold, especially as it relates to women. In addition to the romantic storylines that inevitably come up, living in a limited space such as a space ship and dealing with the unpredictable natures of intergalactic enemies will bring out multiple facets of a character's personality. This gives writers an opportunity to develop interesting, dynamic female roles that go beyond slapstick humor or trivialities.
Of course, there are plenty of sci-fi heroines who have made their mark by kicking butt back on Earth as well.
Sarah Connor, mother to the all-important John Connor in the "Terminator" series, is probably one of the most memorable take-no-prisoner's women in sci-fi history, at least as she appears in "Terminator 2: Judgement Day." Her dedication to keeping her son safe and trying to save the world transform her from a scared damsel in distress into a hardcore femme fatale.
Let's not forget Agent Scully, the "X-Files" heroine who was the ultimate strong woman of the 1990s. As the rational scientist throughout most of the show, who based her beliefs on evidence rather than faith, Scully was a departure from the stereotype that men are rational while women believe solely in what they feel. Gillian Anderson's portrayal of the smart, tough character left a lasting impression on viewers for years to come.
Going further back we have Jaime Sommers, the main character in "The Bionic Woman." Sommers becomes superhuman when she is saved from a skydiving accident by receiving bionic implants. She becomes a CIA operative in exchange for the life-saving implants, an agreement arranged by her boyfriend, "Six Million Dollar Man" Steve Austin. Sommers is an example of the survivor character, who is alive against the odds and now not only has to come to grips with the way her body and entire life has changed, but also has to fend for herself during dangerous undercover operations. She is a complex, interesting character whose storyline and personality traits enhance the show dramatically.
These are but a few of the fascinating female characters with which science fiction shows are populated. The genre continues to push the limits with storytelling and character development, which no doubt means there are more exciting, memorable heroines the world has yet to meet.