mariska hargitay

Despite the frequently debated representation of women on television, there are still plenty of unforgettable female role models from some of our favorite shows. They’re women who exhibit bravery, wisdom, and strength — oftentimes in moments of extreme adversity. Following these women are loyal fanbases; and when you think about it, what’s not to love?

1. Olivia Benson — Law & Order SVU

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 Is there are female role model more heroic than Detective Olivia Benson? The harshness and oftentimes cruel reality of her job haven’t hardened this extraordinarily intelligent woman, and it’s her heart and compassion that make her so good at what she does. Not to mention that in real life, Mariska Hargitay (who plays Benson) established the Joyful Heart Foundation, which helps victims of sexual abuse.

2. Jessica Pearson — Suits

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She’s fierce; she’s smart; and don’t think that because she’s a woman, she’s vulnerable. Jessica Pearson is one third of a well-known law firm, with trusty Harvey Specter by her side; and she can manage the cutthroat atmosphere of the legal world better than anyone. She’s still got a big heart in there, but she’s like the mama bear; and anytime someone goes after her or her team (her family), she comes out swinging.

3. Sameen Shaw — Person of Interest

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She doesn’t smile. She doesn’t laugh. She doesn’t crack jokes. On the outside, Shaw is as intimidating and unapproachable as they come. But there’s a reason she’s always there at the right time and the right place to save the day: Not only does she do her job better than anyone else ever could, but she always has the back of her team members. She’s the perfect addition to the crime-fighting pair Reese and Finch, and her background as a former Army Intelligence Support activity operative helps them stop crimes before they even happen.

4. Carrie Mathison — Homeland

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Carrie might be emotionally unstable, with a reliance on anti-psychotic drugs and highly questionable relationships; and that’s almost what makes us love her more. No one can deny that Carrie cares about her job more than anything, as she often approaches it with an obsessive compulsive mindset. She fights for the innocent and stands up to the guilty; and while her life is so much more complicated than the average human being could ever handle, she continues to forge on with the utmost bravery.

5. Skye — Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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More than anything, Skye wants to figure out her past and what happened with her parents. That doesn’t get in the way of her being a genius computer hacker though. She was an unsure choice to join the other agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but she brings something special to the team. You don’t want to underestimate this gal; she’s a lot more powerful than anyone really knows.

6. Lt. Debra Morgan — Dexter

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Morgan can smell a bad guy coming from a mile away. She is the morally correct version to Dexter, always aiming the find the killer and bring him to justice. Debra provides the perfect balance to Dexter’s own approach, although you should never mistake this badass chick for a softy.

7. Cristina Yang – Grey’s Anatomy

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It’s the brains that draw us in, here. Cristina Yang — with all her ambition and a strong sense of competition — rules the operating room, and her status as a board member and one of the owners of Seattle Grace Hospital tells us that maybe we women aren’t living in a man’s world after all.