Women on television and in the movies have come a long way since the days of June Cleaver and "Leave It To Beaver". The stay-at-home moms have given way to fierce fighters who can hold their own in the boxing ring, the courtroom and every other area without flinching. Hollywood has reflected societal change by making movies and television programs that demonstrate women as leaders and independent thinkers. Here are the seven of the most powerful female characters in TV and film history.



Maggie Fitzgerald, "Million Dollar Baby" (2004). Fitzgerald (Hillary Swank) is a hard-working waitress who decides to take up boxing. She finds she has a talent for the sport, and she becomes one of the most successful figures in women's boxing. Unfortunately, a tragic accident renders her a quadriplegic, and she lives the rest of her days in a hospital bed. Despite her condition, Fitzgerald never loses her dignity. Her strength is revealed in the scenes with her money-grubbing mother.

Maude Findlay, "Maude" (1972-78). "Maude" was a spinoff from the hit series "All In The Family". Maude (Bea Arthur) is Edith Bunker's cousin, and she is considered to be the liberal and female equivalent to Archie Bunker. Maude is tough, smart, funny and quick-witted. In an era when women were still finding their legs in society, Maude is independent, speaking her mind at all times without caring how she is perceived.


C.J. Cregg, "The West Wing" (1999-2006). Cregg (Allison Janney) is the White House Press Secretary and never has any problems explaining the president's policies or defending him to members of the media. She does her job professionally and well, but she is never afraid to give her own opinion behind closed doors. She is respected so much that she eventually becomes his Chief of Staff.



Murphy Brown, "Murphy Brown" (1988-98). Brown (Candice Bergen) is one of the top news anchors of her day, and she is a key figure outside the small screen. Brown was actually criticized by real-life vice-president Dan Quayle because she is a single mother. Quayle said he thought that set a bad example for the rest of the country. Brown is a hard-edged reporter, but she also shows a big heart on a regular basis.


The Bride, "Kill Bill, Volume 2" (2004). After waking up from a coma caused by getting attacked on her wedding day, the bride (Uma Thurman) becomes a killing machine. Whether she is using a sword or her brilliant martial arts skills, she is motivated to kill Bill and anyone who tries to get in her way, and she ultimately achieves that goal.


Clarice Starling, "Silence Of The Lambs" (1991). Starling (Jodie Foster) is a young FBI agent who must interview notorious killer/psychopath/cannibal Hannibal Lecter in order to help catch a killer who skins his victims. Lecter was once a brilliant psychiatrist, so he is a master manipulator who enjoys pushing Starling's buttons. Nevertheless, she holds her own and gets the information that she needs.



Roseanne Conner, "Roseanne" (1988-1997). Roseanne (Roseanne Barr) is a wife and mother, but she also works outside the house to help her struggling middle class family make ends meet. Roseanne calls herself a "domestic Goddess" when she is at home and the mistress of her castle. She has to know everybody's plans, and she has to approve them or else there is trouble in the Conner household. She also has the ability to stand up and fight for herself and her family members with ferocity.