When warriors are mentioned, it’s natural men are the first to pop into mind. Whether fictional ones like Conan or real-life soldiers, warriors and men are usually an obvious choice. However, historically, women have been just as tough on the battlefield as any man can be. Joan of Arc and Boudica are just two examples of women who led armies and proved themselves so well in combat. On television, it gets even more notable as the rise of various TV shows pushing females has led to the female warrior getting a lot more screen time. While cops and secret agents can qualify, it’s better when the warrior truly is a tough fighter, often getting by on just her strength and skills but proving herself well.
This being TV, it’s natural they look gorgeous too. Sometimes, you can accuse the casting department of just a pretty face and not that believable in a fight but thankfully, many shows manage to avoid it. You have women who can be very believable as fighters as well as good looking (and often flashing plenty of skin in the process) with a lot of shows enhancing the action quite well. These aren’t just soldiers or secret agents, they are full-on warriors, skilled with a sword or other weapons and balancing that tough idea with amazing sexual presence. There are plenty of examples but here are 20 women in television who prove the female can truly be the deadlier of the species.
Some SPOILERS for characters.
20 Helena - Orphan Black
It still amazes a viewer to watch Orphan and realize all these amazing female clones are played by one actress. Tatiana Maslany is astounding as all these women, each with their own style and personalities. Helena was raised in a horrible environment as an abused woman and turned into a religious crackpot seeking to wipe out the other clones. The character appeared killed off in the season one finale but returned in season 2 with a new attitude, now seeing the clones as her “seestars” and wanting to help them. Mixing childlike innocence with near psychotic behavior, Helena is an incredible warrior, even when pregnant. When a drug gang makes the mistake of threatening Allison and Donnie’s children, Helena tosses Donnie out and walks to them. The next time we see her, she’s holding a bloody axe, covered in blood but not a mark on her. There was also the great bit when a captive Allison is rescued by Helena bursting into her home to fire an arrow into her attacker’s neck. This mix of insanity and cheerfulness makes Helena one of the best of the “Clone Club” and a great highlight of a fun show.
19 Brienne of Tarth - Game of Thrones
When the producers of George R.R. Martin’s epic came to the role of Brienne, they thought they’d have a hard time with it. How many six-foot tall actresses who can be believable as armor-wearing knights can you find? As it turned out, Gwendoline Christie fit the bill perfectly as while masculine looking, she still has amazing beauty to carry through the role (far more than the book version of the character). While going around in mostly armor, Christie still shows some nice presence, including a great scene of her flashing her rear in a tub and the fact she doesn’t trade on her looks just makes her more appealing. That she’s been shown to not only hold her own but defeat some of the best male warriors around is astounding and the few times she’s in a dress show a much better body than she would admit. It’s that fighting spirit that carries her through, beautiful in her own way but prefers to let her fists and blades do the talking for her. Christie has proven herself well for bigger roles in Star Wars and others and proving that being “manly” is more than made up for by a gorgeous lady fighting well.
18 Gabrielle - Xena Warrior Princess
When this series began, Gabrielle was basically the normal girl and comic relief, a villager who tagged along with Xena to get some excitement. The first change was when they fell in with an Amazon tribe who started to train Gabrielle so she dropped the simple dresses for shorts and a tight mid-riff baring top while fighting with a staff. She and Xena still had a great bond with Rene O’Connor carrying a wonderful humor to Gabrielle as the light Xena needed. A big change came later in the series with her gaining more fighting skills, cutting her hair short and more revealing outfits and more sexual presence than she’d shown before while wielding twin daggers. The transformation was fantastic, showing Gabrielle far more confident as a fighter and a woman and no surprise she and Xena’s relationship set fans talking. As key to the series as Xena herself, Gabrielle was an amazing turn from quiet gal to warrior in her own right that made the entire show work.
17 Dutch - Killjoys
Syfy’s popular series takes place in the future where Killjoys are basically galactic bounty hunters. Dutch was born Yalena, a former royal until her family was disgraced and she became a harem girl. A marriage to a noble ended in his death so she changed her name and used training she got to become a Killjoy. Hannah John-Kamen carries the role well with a cool humor, believable as a lady bossing around her male partners and while she uses her beauty at times, prefers to be the action girl. When she does get hot, it’s amazing as she looks stunning in dresses for parties and shown to play at both men and women alike and can swear like a sailor despite her upper-class accent. The tight leather outfits and blasters are standouts but Dutch’s fantastic sex appeal makes the character a winner and key to the show growing in popularity to show how the boss lady can be the hottest one around.
16 Nyssa - Arrow
The first time we see this woman, she’s entering through the Starling City Airport and stopped by security. In the space of twenty seconds, she’s taken a half dozen men down with punches, kicks and using a security tape as a whip. Katrina Law had already proved herself as a woman capable of handling some action scenes on Spartacus, so it’s no surprise she was able to do so as the Daughter of the Demon. Gorgeous and cool, she was already a sight before she shared a hot kiss with her former lover, Sara Lance. A capable fighter, Nyssa led raids of her father’s League of Assassins, her sword skills fantastic and while she worked with the team at times, she was a capable opponent as well. She ended up disbanding the League but the door is open for a return and many a fan hopes it happens as Nyssa shows how she inherited her father’s skills but added her own sexy presence to make this one hot Demon.
15 Elektra - Daredevil
From her very first appearance, Elektra has been one of the most beautiful women in all of comics, the character who put the “fatal” in femme fatale. Viewers of Netflix’s adaptation of the comic were eager to see her brought to life on screen and Elodie Yung was a great choice for the role. Her amazing form garbed in black ninja outfits, she showcased the skill of Elektra, a woman capable of handling a dozen men at once and looking great as hell doing it. Her sexual presence was shown well with her banter with Matt Murdock but underneath, a deadly spirit that drove her on in combat. She seemed to come to a bad end but fans of the character know she’s beaten death before and it’s likely to happen again as Yung was a clear reminder of how Elektra remains the most beautiful deadly woman comics can provide.
14 Michonne - The Walking Dead
It took until the third season for TWD to bring in the character most cite as the most popular of the original comic. Once a simple mother, Michonne lost her family to the zombie rise and was forced to become a cold fighter to survive. She stands out from her entrance, hooded with two armless zombies led by chains and holding her ever-ready samurai sword. Danai Gurira has been sensational bringing the role to life, showing the slow development of Michonne from dead inside to trying to open up to others. In combat, she’s a blur in motion, able to take down “Walkers” with amazing ease to slice heads and hearts and can be just as tough with human fighters as well. She prefers to dress down in just comfortable pants and muscle shirts but the few times she’s cleaned up have shown a truly beautiful woman. She’s mellowed a bit but when it comes to fighting the undead, Michonne is still the best warrior around and proving that a sexy survivor can be seen under all that dirt and grime.
13 Faith - Buffy the Vampire Slayer
For most of her run, Faith was basically the cautionary tale for Buffy, a dark mirror of what she could become. Another Slayer, Faith had a rough life and a tough attitude as she came to Sunnydale with some sardonic humor. Eliza Dushku instantly rose to fame with the part, her lush hair flowing past a face made for a sexy smirk and her amazing form nicely caught in tight jeans and shirts. Faith was the “bad girl” from the start, seducing Xander into bed and then kicking him out and enjoying a night of partying. But her temper got the best of her, leading to killing an innocent and then going to the dark side. After time in a coma, Faith returned but then turned herself in to face punishment for her past. Freed to help Buffy out again, she redeemed herself a bit and Dushku handled herself fantastic in fight scenes as well as just looking like a wild but hot mess. More than a few fans wished Dushku had agreed to the plans of a Faith spin-off as the dark Slayer seemed a hotter ride to enjoy than the “good girl.”
12 Mei Lin - Marco Polo
Netflix’s series may play fast and loose with history but it still remains a fun watch as it tells the “true” story of the famed explorer’s adventures. Mei at first appears to be just another concubine in the Chinese royal court, Olivia Cheng looking quite lovely in the part, a real lady and obviously used to bedding men. However, it soon turned out that Mei was a highly trained assassin using this role as cover for assignments. She does this to protect her young daughter and isn’t above using a literal “kiss of death” on her targets to get the job done. The highlight of the first season was when a trio of men attacked Mei in a bath and she fought them with fantastic martial arts moves while totally in the nude. Cheng makes the role sexy as hell but also the inner toughness to show how a gal who can slit your throat without a stitch on her make this a historical ride worth taking.
11 Callisto - Xena/Hercules
Callisto entered the world of Xena as the heroine’s mirror image. As a girl, her village was massacred by a younger Xena during her barbarian days and broke Callisto’s mind. Over the years, she trained herself as a first-rate warrior in her own right to get revenge. Hudson Leick played the role of this psychopath wonderfully well, her blonde hair flowing, her tight outfit flaunting her body and selling the woman as a total mess. Intended as a one-off character, Callisto clicked with fans to come back time and again. When Lucy Lawless broke her leg, the writers had the idea of Callisto and Xena switching bodies and Leick doing a great job aping Lawless’ mannerisms and voice. Even when killed off, the character returned to face Xena and Hercules, becoming a dark goddess, killed and eventually redeemed but it’s still her evil nutcase fans loved. Leick continues to look hot and show up at conventions to do her famed “Callisto Scream” to thrill fans and remind you how the nutty gals can be the hotter ones.
10 The Sand Snakes - Game of Thrones
With a nickname like that, you’d expect something deadly and these sisters do their best to live up to it. The daughters of Oberyn Martell, they enter the show in season 5 looking for revenge for their father’s death. Obra (Keisha Castle-Hughes), Tyene (Rosabelli Laurenti Sellers) and Nymeria (Jessica Henwick) look a formidable trio, all clad in tight golden outfits that flash legs and some skin and incredibly skilled with spear, whip and daggers. Tyene may be the hottest with a memorable scene of her flashing her breasts at a prisoner before revealing she’s poisoned him and blackmailing a statement of adoration for the antidote. The trio pull off a major coup that leads to scores of deaths but look great doing it and show that blood is thicker than water even when it flows as free as on GOT. And that three hot sisters make an even better picture than one.
9 Lexa - The 100
When you can cause an entire fandom to erupt in sheer outrage over killing a character, you know it’s a big deal. When we first meet Lexa, she appears to be a low-level prisoner tossed in with some of the “Sky People” who came from a floating space station and now held by “Grounders,” those who survived the nuclear war of a century ago. However, she turns out to actually be the leader of her clan and Alycia Debnam-Carey pulled the role off beautifully. She looks amazing, sexy with lush brown hair and makeup highlighting her eyes and thus her very gorgeous face. The rest of her body is as great in dark outfits but she carries herself with bitter command, not above killing a failed underling if she has to and dedicated to helping her clan out. From the start, fans loved to imagine her and main character Clarke together and then the show had them sharing a steamy kiss. It ended with a betrayal and heartbreak before they finally got together. However (due to Debnam-Carey’s role on Fear the Walking Dead) Lexa was killed off right afterward, causing a huge backlash. The season 3 finale did ease that as, inside a virtual world, Clarke is saved by Lexa’s spirit who then gives the sacrifice for her love fans wanted. This reaction shows how much Lexa meant as a character and a sexy fighter to help put this show on the map.
8 Max - Dark Angel
If you’re casting a figure meant to be a perfectly created genetic warrior, you can’t do better than a young Jessica Alba. In the role that made her a star, Alba played Max, a woman mixed with feline DNA by a government experiment who escaped to survive in a future Seattle. The promotional images of Alba in skintight black leather and dark hair flowing outward basically sold the show months before the pilot aired and no wonder it became a cult success. Max was super-strong and athletic, riding her motorcycle to take down bad guys and soon pushed to help others against the government that created her. It got better with undercover jobs that had Max in everything from a stripper to business woman but always looking sexy as hell despite her tomboy nature. Adding to it was that because of her DNA, Max could find herself “in heat” which was a good news/bad news situation for any man in her path. The show only lasted two seasons due to high budget but it remains the reason Alba is famous and still a great showcase for an icon of sexy sci-fi ladies.
7 Amanda - Highlander
She’d classify herself more as a thief and a sometime con artist. However, you don’t live for a thousand years unless you’ve got some skills, particularly in the world of Highlander. Immortals find themselves in sword duels with the winner cutting off their opponent’s head (the only way they can die for good) to absorb their power. Thus, for a woman to survive so long, she has to be damn good with a blade. The character was introduced as a one-off appearance but Elizabeth Gracen’s performance was so winning that it was made a recurring character and a full cast member for the show’s last season. Wonderfully witty and wicked, Amanda could use her sexuality to get at folks and aid in her various thefts as her centuries of life made her the best burglar on the planet. Her short-lived spin-off showed more of her long life with Gracen adapting to various looks and accents and handling herself quite well in the fight scenes. Gracen did a fan film in 2013 as Amanda and still looked fantastic to show that she could play this immortal beauty quite well.
6 Sara Lance - Arrow/Legends of Tomorrow
Sara Lance was basically a wild child and spoiled brat who, just to tick off her family, slept with her sister’s boyfriend, Oliver Queen. Shipwrecked on the same island, she was almost killed before rescued by the League of Assassins and trained as a killer herself. She eventually returned as the heroine Black Canary and tried to make up for her past. Caity Lotz was a good choice for the role, using her ballet training for the fight scenes and her fantastic outfit with push-up bra and legs showed off well in fight scenes. Adding to it was the revelation Sara was bisexual with some hot kissing with Nyssa while sleeping with Oliver once more. Her death in season three outraged the fans so much that the producers eventually brought her back to life. Now the White Canary on spin-off Legends of Tomorrow, she continues her great work, looking fantastic in fights while handling everything from a romance with a 1950s nurse to a cowgirl and looking great in her white suit. The character continues to grow as the show continues and proving how a bad girl gone good can be hotter than a pure heroine.
5 Buffy Summers - Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The power of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the idea of how the classic high school cheerleader could be humanity’s defender against evil. Buffy Summers was your typical high school queen bee when she was called to become the Slayer, defending against vampires and other supernatural threats. Sarah Michelle Gellar was amazing in the role, Buffy fighting with the issues of teenagers (grades, a tough mom, handling friends and love) while also dealing with the forces of darkness attacking on a weekly basis. Her great humor carried along and Gellar was beautiful but her sexy standing came from how she didn’t back down from anything, even boyfriend Angel turned evil. She got hotter as she entered college, Gellar showing the power of Buffy coping with everything from losing her mother to even dying herself but never giving up and that tenacity helped add to the heat that made Buffy far more of a sexy presence than even the show gave her credit for.
4 Aeryn Sun - Farscape
The cult sci-fi series is still well regarded for its bizarre mix of action, humor and drama. It followed Ben Browder as John Crichton, an astronaut tossed into a distant galaxy at war. Aeryn was one of the misnamed Peacekeepers, the soldiers working for the evil empire in this section of space. Cast out from her people for saving Crichton, Aeryn was soon working with him and the rest of the crew of convicts in various adventures. Claudia Black was well cast, a cool soldier who could be terrific in battle and wearing a tight leather suit certainly helped, along with her lush black hair and a sexy as hell accent. Her long-simmering romance with Browder was well done, the two working together for some steamy hookups as Aeryn became pregnant with a famous scene of her firing a rifle at enemies right while giving birth. This show had slews of stuff to make it a success but Black’s performance was key to helping it become an international sexy splash.
3 Saxa - Spartacus
The Starz series is packed with some fantastic kick-ass women, many of them former slaves before joining the title hero’s quest to take down the Romans. Saxa was introduced in the second season as a member of a German tribe recused by Spartacus and joining his army. Even more than the other women on the show, she was a fierce as hell fighter and Ellen Holloman looked amazing in the role, charging into battle with a feral energy, slashing guys with glee and ferocious in her great fighting. This being Spartacus, Holloman also showed off plenty of skin in some hot sex scenes, getting wild with both men and women alike and just as gorgeous there. She met a harsh end but Saxa was among the best sights of this fantastic show to prove the women could get down and dirty as much as men.
2 Lagertha - Vikings
History Channel’s smash hit showcases how the women of these legendary warriors were just as brutal on the field of battle as the men were. Kathryn Winnick brilliantly plays Lagertha, the first wife of clan leader Ragnar who clearly is not only better in a fight but much smarter handling the politics of the job. Her temper can get the best of her so while she seems a classic icy blonde, she can be amazingly hot-blooded and in a fight, Winnick is fantastic slashing and cutting down soldiers who make the mistake of thinking she’s easy prey. Her cool smile makes you realize why she’s in control so much of the time and no matter her personal fortunes, everyone in her clan recognizes her as the warrior to have on their side…and more than a few in their bed.
1 Xena - Xena Warrior Princess
The obvious choice for the topper. The character originally showed up on Hercules the Legendary Journeys as a full-on villainess, a wicked conqueror. However, Lucy Lawless’ performance showed more depth and so the producers decided to turn Xena good and have her star in her own spin-off. She had the looks with that tight leather costume over a fantastic body and lush black hair about and more than a few episodes had her showing plenty of skin in hot outfits. However, Lawless also showed the deep character of Xena, carrying the guilt of her dark past and trying to redeem herself by helping others. Even being pregnant didn’t slow her down from taking down hordes of warriors at once and handling challenges that would kill anyone else. She made a heroic sacrifice but her legend lives on with the hottest warrior princess television could ever imagine and Lawless still an icon for the part.