On ABC's Missing, Ashley Judd plays a former CIA agent who is forced back into her butt-kicking ways when her son is mysteriously kidnapped. With the show about to premiere, a look back at some of TV's other fierce females.
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Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner), Alias
Pink hair! Hot outfits! Deadly missions in exotic locales! She kind of defines badass lady, no? Not only was she singularly successful at her job, she fought through pain and misery (losing her fiancé and best friend, struggling with her dad, denying herself Vaughn) while doing it.
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Kara "Starbuck" Thrace (Katee Sackhoff), Battlestar Galactica
How hot is Starbuck? On one hand, she's idolized by the boys — and by idolized, we mean she can out-drink them, beat them down (hello, intimidating shoulders!), and lead them into intergalactic battle against deadly Cylons. On the other, she manages to seduce anyone and everyone, from the delicious rebel Anders to her buddy Apollo. All-around awesomeness.
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Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Buffy the Vampire Slayer
It's not every day that a high school cheerleader learns she's a Slayer, one of the Chosen Ones gifted with strength to take on the forces of evil. Not only does she battle (and sometimes even date) vampires as advertised, but she also takes on all sorts of demons, spirits and spells gone awry with the help of her Scooby Gang of close friends and her trusty stake Mr. Pointy. Oh, and did we mention that she's died and has been resurrected at least twice? Girl is tough!
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Xena (Lucy Lawless), Xena: Warrior Princess
Do not mess with this lady. She once sided with the bad guys, so she knows how to fight dirty. Sure, she can take down any opponent using her fists, sword, bow and arrow or chakram — that cool, circular throwing blade — but what makes her most intimidating is that she does it with such style. Who else can rock such bangs and don a tight-leather skirted outfit, but still strike fear in the hearts of men with her signature ululating battle cry?
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Nikita (Maggie Q), Nikita
Nikita has mad martial arts skills, but she can also assemble any firearm in the dark, speaks several languages and has an undercover alter ego named Josephine. Not bad for a former drug addict living on the streets. But even more impressive is that she took all these assassin skills she learned from the secret operation known as Division and is now trying to take on Division itself.
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Max (Jessica Alba), Dark Angel
As repeated so many times throughout the series, Max doesn't "do guns," but who needs 'em when you are engineered specifically to kick butt all on your own? A genetically enhanced super-soldier, Max received extensive combat training, as well as weapons and computer training. Also, she ran around the city in all-black leather get-ups.
9 of 14 20th Century Fox
River Tam (Summer Glau), Firefly and Serenity
The child prodigy was quiet and needed the protection of her brother for most of Firefly's run — little did anyone know that the Alliance's "school" had actually turned her into a super soldier. By the time Serenity rolled around, she had morphed into the dangerous assassin she was born to be.
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Ana Lucia (Michelle Rodriguez), Lost
Of course a tail section survivor would become one of the most badass characters on Lost — they were hunted down by the Others from the get-go. (Ana Lucia gets props for spearing one of them to death.) But even before she got to The Island, she was fierce: The ex-police officer shot and killed an attacker in cold blood.
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Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski), Chuck
No question: The blonde bombshell is the sexiest super agent since Jennifer Garner. Though Sarah can be warm and kind, there's a ruthless killer just waiting to be unleashed. What's worse for her targets is that her many sexy costumes — Princess Leia! — leave you slack-jawed so you won't even realize there's a giant knife barely concealed under that slit in her dress. At least most of her kills probably died with smiles on their faces.
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Tracy Strauss (Ali Larter), Heroes
Of the four characters Larter played on the NBC superhero series, Tracy Strauss was the most genuinely dangerous. One in a set of triplets, she was the most icy, literally. She could turn into water and freeze anything, which came in handy when she needed to kill off the Building 26 agents who imprisoned her.
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Gemma Teller Morrow (Katey Sagal), Sons of Anarchy
The very definition of a Mama Bear, Gemma knows no limits when it comes to protecting her family and the SAMCRO motorcycle club. We've seen her get her hands dirty with a syringe full of smack and a gun, but her real secret weapon is her brain. Always thinking two steps ahead, she's a master manipulator. She may not have a seat alongside Clay and Jax at SAMCRO's voting table, but when she has the boys eating out of her hand, she doesn't need one.
She may not walk or talk like a typical butt-kicking TV heroine, but don't let this Southamptonite's sweet looks fool you: She's as ruthless as they come. After her father went to jail, Emily spent years roughing it up in juvie and learning martial arts before emerging intent on taking down the people who betrayed him. She changed her name, dyed her hair and seduced the son of the woman she hates the most in an effort to truly ruin her life. Because, you know, murder would be too quick and painless.