1. Maybe this isn't *technically* my top ten favorite female character list. I wanted only one entry per TV show to keep things diverse. So that's why there's certainly no Buffy Summers and arguably Abbey Bartlet or Betty Draper.
2. These are not my graphics. I suck at making graphics. I trawled through Tumblr and went out like a thief (but I"m crediting!)
3. Maybe I got a little overzealous with the quotes- but I really wanted to find quotes that I don't see around a lot but I absolutely love, especially from the more verbose characters. But I also wanted to focus on the barn-burners, especially from shows that really don't get a play on the Internet like The Sopranos.
WILLOW ROSENBERG- BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
Willow: Look! We found stairs! Buffy didn't find stairs, no sir!
Willow: Don't worry. I won't do anything that could be interpreted as brave.
Willow : I feel lousy.
Giles : Turkey came out rather splendidly.
Buffy : Oh, it was yummy.
Willow : It's just...Did you see me? Two seconds of conflict with an indigenous person, and I turned into General Custer.
Willow: Mom! I'm not acting out - I'm a witch. I make pencils float. I can summon the four elements! Well - two elements - but four soon! (then) And I'm dating a musician!
Buffy: We need to find him. Ampata's the mummy. Willow: Oh. (absorbs the information and smiles) Good. (realizes its implication) Xander!
Willow: Well, what's their ultimate agenda? I mean, okay, yeah, they-they neuter vampires and demons. But then what? Are they gonna reintegrate them into society? Get them jobs as bagboys at Wal-Mart?
2. CJ CREGG- THE WEST WING
C.J.: The president said he wanted deficit reduction worked into this budget. I said it should be 50%. Was that not clear?
Herb: We thought it was along the lines of, "I'd like a pony".
Fred: Nobody actually expects to get the pony.
C.J.: I want the pony.
C.J.: The President will be monitoring the situation in the China Sea as well as Hartsfield's Landing. Any of the new people not know about Hartfield's Landing? Hartsfield's Landing is a town in New Hampshire. Population 63. While the rest of New Hampshire goes to the polls at 8 AM tomorrow, all of the 42 registered voters of Hartsfield vote at one minute past midnight, or a little over two hours from now. Hartsfield has accurately predicted the winner in every presidential election since William Howard Taft, who, by the way, was founder of the seventh-inning stretch wherein we sing, "Take Me Out To The Ballgame," music and lyrics by Jack Norworth and Albert von Tilzer. It's all part of the service here at Claudia's House of Useless Knowledge. That's a full lid. Thank you very much.
C.J.: Look, they take this job away from me, I got nothing. I don't have a cat. I could get one, but I don't have one. Frankly, I'm not wild about cats. I don't hate them. I'm just not... I could learn to like them, I guess, if I...
C.J.: You guys are like Butch and Sundance peering over the edge of a cliff to the boulder-filled rapids 300 feet below, thinking you better not jump 'cause there's a chance you might drown. The President has this disease and has been lying about it, and you guys are worried that the polling might make us look bad? It's the fall that's gonna kill ya.
C.J.: National Organization for Women's gonna hate that.
JOSH: I know.
C.J.: Women seeking abortions should not be required by law to be lectured at.
JOSH: Yeah, but you're gonna help me out there, right?
C.J.: Yes, I will. I will once again betray the Sisterhood...Okay, I saw you, you, you, and you roll your eyes.
LARRY: You weren't even looking at me.
C.J.: I felt you.
3. SALLY DRAPER- MAD MEN
Sally Draper: [to Joan] You have big ones. My mommy has big ones too. And I'm going to have big ones when I grow up.
Sally: Then why are you going?
Don: I'm not going. I'm just living elsewhere.
Sally: That's going. You say things and you don't mean them. And you can't just do that.
Sally: When I think about forever, I get upset. Like the Land O' Lakes butter has that Indian girl, sitting, holding a box. And it has a picture of her on it, holding a box. With a picture of her on it, holding a box. Have you ever noticed that?
Sally: Are you looking for a chick?
Don: I am
Sally: Miss Farrell told us about that when we went to the farm. But she says that those eggs can never become a chicken, even though they come out of a chicken.
Don: Why's that?
Sally: Because they're from the store! And you know what else? If you hold an egg up and it has veins in it, you can shake it, then eat it.
Sally: It's called addling.
Sally: She went to Juilliard early.
Betty: She did? When?
Sally: Did you want her to say a tearful goodbye to you?
Betty: Well, frankly, yes.
Sally: Consider yourself lucky. She was so stuck-up. She kept saying how she really was going to "look back on this time fondly." She acts like she's 25 because she uses tampons.
Don: You need to make arrangements to be out of classes December 1st.
Sally: My calendar is full.
Don: Honey, you have to. It's the law.
Sally: Well, I wouldn't want to do anything IMMORAL. You know what? Why don't you just tell them what I saw?
4. ARYA STARK- GAME OF THRONES (Cersei Lannister was ridiculously close to being my Game of Thrones rep. Ask me tomorrow- the answer may be different!)
Beric: He was a good man, Ned Stark. He's at rest now, somewhere. I would never wish my life upon him.
Arya: [sadly] I would. You're alive.
Arya: You promised you'd help me.
Jaqen H'ghar: Help was not promised, lovely girl. Only death. There must be others. Give a name, any name.
Arya: And you'll kill them? Anybody?
Jaqen H'ghar: By the Seven New Gods and the Old Gods beyond counting, I swear it.
Arya: All right. Jaqen H'ghar.
Jaqen H'ghar: A girl gives a man his own name?
Arya: That's right.
Jaqen H'ghar: Gods are not mocked. This is no joking thing.
Arya: I'm not joking. A man can go kill himself.
Jaqen H'ghar: Un-name me.
Jaqen H'ghar: *Please?*
Arya: I'll un-name you.
Jaqen H'ghar: Thank you.
Arya: *If* you help me and my friends escape.
Jaqen H'ghar: [scoffs] This would require more than one life. This is not part of our bargain.
Arya: Fine. Jaqen H'ghar.
Jaqen H'ghar: A girl lacks honor.
Arya: Joffrey... Cersei... Ilyn Payne... the Hound...
[Arya hears a woman prisoner crying, begging Polliver to give her some food. She watches Polliver beating the woman with a club]
Arya: ...Polliver... the Mountain.
5. CARMELA SOPRANO- THE SOPRANOS
Tony.: Besides bringing the fucking chairs down and sign the fucking trust! She was a grown woman who was kicked around. And she's been on her own and she had to fight and struggle!
Carmela: Unlike me? Is that it?
Carmela: [shouting] Who the fuck wanted it like this? Who the fuck pissed and moaned of just the idea of me with a fucking real estate license?
Tony: Well, you sit back for 20 fucking years all you did was fiddle with the air conditioning and fucking bitch and complain! And fucking bitch, bitch, bitch to me! TO YOUR PRIEST! FUCK IT!
Carmela: Who knew all this time you wanted Tracy and Hepburn? Well Tony, what about all the thousand other fucking pigs you had your dick in over the years? The strippers, the cocktail waitresses, were they all your best friends all of them too? You fucking hypocrite.
Carmela: This is such a crock of shit I'm sitting here thinking I should protect my children from the truth about their grandmother on the one hand. On the other I'm saying to myself what kind of example am I setting? Evading and smiling and passing out cheese puffs over a woman we know was terribly dysfunctional who spread no cheer at all
Hugh: I'll speak if I want to, who do you think you are? Minister of propaganda? We suffered for years under the guilt of that woman, years she estranged us from our own daughter ruined how many Goddamn Christmases I don't even want to count
Tom: Here here
Carmela: From beyond the grave even, this is a woman who didn't want a funeral. You, all her children, [pointing to Tony Janice and Barbara] ignored her wishes only after she passed away. By the way she didn't want a funeral. She didn't a remembrance of any kind. Why? She didn't think anybody would come. She wouldn't write down her memories for her grandchildren because she figured nobody loved her enough to read them because she knew there was a problem!
Tony: Uncle Jun, how was Boca?
Junior: Wonderful. I don't go down enough.
Carmela: That's not what I heard.
Carmela: I am intimately acquainted with the Soprano curse. Your father, your uncle, your great-grandfather who drove the donkey cart off the road in Avellino, all of it.”
Carmela: The minute I met Tony, I knew who that guy was. On my second date, he brought me and my mother each a dozen roses and my father a $200 power drill.
Melfi: Not the typical story of young love.
Carmela: And I don't know if I loved him in spite of it..or because of it. Parents weren't like that. And I knew, whether consciously or not, I knew that behind that power drill, there was probably some guy with a broken arm, you know, or worse.
Melfi: And you coped with that, how?
Carmela: I'd go to my priest, and I would cry, and say how bad I felt about how my husband made his money, but that was bullshit. Because there are far bigger crooks than my husband.
6. ELAINE BENES- SEINFELD
Landis: [interviewing Elaine for a job] Not many people have grace.
Elaine Benes: Well, you know, grace is a tough one. I like to think I have a little grace. Not as much as Jackie O...
Landis: You can't have a little grace. You either have grace or you don't.
Elaine Benes: Okay, fine. I have no grace.
Landis: And you can't acquire grace.
Elaine Benes: Well, I have no intention of getting grace.
Landis: Grace isn't something you can pick up at the market.
Elaine Benes: [annoyed] Alright, alright, look, I don't have grace, I don't want grace, I don't even say grace, okay?
Elaine Benes: Although one wonders if "War and Peace" would have been as highly acclaimed as it was if it was published under it's original name "War: What Is It Good For?"
Elaine Benes: Yes. Mr. Lippman. It was his mistress who insisted he called it "War and Peace." "War - What Is It Good For" [singing] Absolutely nothin'!
Elaine Benes: What a dope! Uh... excuse me. Umm... I'm sorry. This is... this is kind of embarrassing but there's no toilet paper over here.
Jane: Are you talking to me?
Elaine Benes: Yeah. I just forgot to check. So if you could just spare me some.
Jane: No, I'm sorry.
Elaine Benes: What?
Jane: No I'm sorry, I can't spare it.
Elaine Benes: You can't spare it?
Jane: No, there's not enough to spare.
Elaine Benes: Well I don't need much. Just 3 squares will do it.
Jane: I'm sorry. I don't have a square to spare. Now if you don't mind.
Elaine Benes: 3 squares? you can't spare 3 squares?
Jane: No, I don't have a square to spare. I can't spare a square.
Elaine Benes: Oh, is it two-ply? Cause if it's two-ply, I'll take one ply. One ply, one, one! puny little ply, I'll take one measly ply.
Jane: Look, I don't have a square and I don't have a ply.
[She flushes and leaves]
Elaine Benes: No, no, no, no! Don't! Don't! I beg you!
7. ATIA OF THE JULII- ROME
Atia of the Julii: Octavian, my honey, who would you rather killed you?
Gaius Octavian: I'm old enough to take care of myself, mother.
Atia of the Julii: Oh, that's my brave boy.
Atia of the Julii: A large penis is always welcome!
Atia of the Julii: [to Livia] You are swearing now that some day... some day you will destroy me... Remember, far better women than you have sworn to do the same. Go and look for them now.
Atia of the Julii: I don't want to go north. North is ghastly.
Atia: Whose glory is Octavia's marriage?
Octavius: For Rome.
Atia: Rome, who is he? I don't know him. Does he have a sister too?
Octavia: I was at an orgy, mother. It was an orgy.
Agrippa: EARLY, EARLY stages of an orgy. The Bacchic ritual hadn't begun!
Atia: You stupid drunken slut. It's that bitch Jocasta's fault, she the one that's led you astray.
Octavia: So, I was at an orgy. Who cares?
Atia: What do you think your brother will do if he finds out?...Whilst he's at the forum preaching piety and virtue to the plebs, you're at an orgy sucking slave cock?! How do you think that looks? He'll banish you at the very least.
Octavia: No, he won't...and I sucked no slave cock.
8. EMILY GILMORE- GILMORE GIRLS
Emily Gilmore: I know you heard a lot of talk about various disappointments this evening. And I know you've heard a lot of talk about it in the past. But I want to make this very clear. You, young lady, your person and your existence, have never, ever been, not even for a second, included in that list.
Emily Gilmore: You do not just leave a person a note.
Emily Gilmore: [quoting the letter 16-year old pregnant Lorelai left for them] "Dear Mom and Dad, I'm in labor. See you later, Lorelai." You do not leave your house when you're having a baby without telling your mother. You say, "Excuse me, Mom, I'm having a baby, give a ride to the damn hospital!"
Sookie: I was just wondering if it's ok to set up a buffet in the dining room?
Emily: I don't know. What do you think Pennilyn Lott would do? You think she'd set it up in the dining room? Because personally I think we should toss some cheese cubes in the coffin, stuff some toothpicks in her mouth, and let the people go to town!
LORELAI: Was that her real name -- Sweetie?
EMILY: No, her name was Melinda. Sweetie was a nickname.
EMILY: What do you mean, why?
LORELAI: I mean, how did they get Sweetie from Melinda?
EMILY: They didn't get Sweetie from Melinda. Sweetie is a nickname.
LORELAI: Yes, I know Sweetie was a nickname, but usually, a nickname comes from a version of your name, or there's a story behind the name or something.
EMILY: She was sweet. That's the story.
EMILY: She had a very sweet nature.
EMILY: Well, what kind of story did you want, Lorelai?
LORELAI: No, that's fine. She was sweet. They called her Sweetie. It's a good story.
EMILY: No, really. Exactly what kind of story about my recently departed friend would amuse you?
LORELAI: Mom, it's not to amuse me. It's --
EMILY: All right, fine. Sweetie's father was a very poor man -- so poor that Sweetie and her four siblings all had to sleep in a hollowed-out tree trunk because the house was only big enough for their parents. One winter, there was no food, so Sweetie crawled out of her trunk, wrapped her feet in newspaper, and walked forty miles in the snow to the nearest town, where she stumbled into a candy store. The owner took pity on her and gave her bags of candy, a dill pickle, and drove her back to her family. He promptly offered a job to her father, who gladly accepted and eventually owned that store and turned it into one of the most important candy emporiums in the world. And that is how she got the name Sweetie. There, how was that?
LORELAI: Now, that was a pretty good story.
9. CARRIE MATHISON- HOMELAND (Arguably, my most controversial choice. Even with myself. In the limited places that I find Homeland conversation on the 'net, it's bashing Carrie. She's a VERY difficult character- the rugged action heroine but with all of the messy toxic qualities of a grim dark male hero from the alcoholism to the inability to connect with her kid to the ill-advised, manipulative sexual liaisons. And those qualities don't exist separate from her work- they're baked in. But then on top of that, she bothers the trendy social justice people and the law order types alike because she's flops widely from being a wooly-headed "everyone deserves a second chance" idealistic softie in how she prosecutes to being a rock-ribbed virulent pursuer of terrorist who venerates the CIA and its need for absolute power and refuses conventional displays of guilt when innocent people die and get hurt from the war that she's fighting.
However, while I've been frustrated with how she flip-flops on her own War on Terror and how she's led to one position or another by her particular passion or indignation of the day, I'm appreciating it more as portrait of how fifteen years after 9/11, most people don't know exactly how to feel on the War on Terror and the role of the US in that conflict.
Carrie Mathison: How did you swing this?
Carrie Mathison: Swing what?
John Redmond: Four days ago, I got the call tapping me as chief. Then yesterday, Lockhart suddenly reverses his decision.
Carrie Mathison: What?
John Redmond: That's a perfectly innocent question.
Carrie Mathison: You really want to know how I did it? I asked nicely.
[pauses] Oh, and, John? Clean yourself up. I can smell the booze from here.
Carrie Mathison: It reeks, you know, your bullshit. Do I want to be friends with a demented ex-soldier who hates America, who decided that strapping on a bomb was what the answer to what ailed him, despite his daughter, his son, people who loved him in real life and not in the mind-fuck world of Abu Nazir? Who in the end didn't have the stones to go through with it but had no problem sending me to the nuthouse? Yeah... no thanks. I don't think I need a friend like that.
Nicholas Brody: Ok. Not friends.
Carrie Mathison: So what are you going to do now, you going to kill me? Blame it on rough sex, maybe? How long can you get away with something like that?
Nicholas Brody: I've had a pretty good run so far... I seem to be good at this, if nothing else.
Carrie Mathison: So what do you say... when people ask you what it was like over there?
Nicholas Brody: As little as possible.
Carrie Mathison: But if they insist?
Nicholas Brody: I lie. Tell them stories they want to hear.
Carrie Mathison: It's the lies that undo us. It's the lies we think we need to survive. When was the last time you told the truth?
10. DIANE LOCKHART- THE GOOD WIFE
Diane: I just don’t wanna be blind sided.
Will: Have you noticed that you’re turning into me? All those sports metaphors?
Diane: A better version of you.
Judge Cuesta: You know you only have four hours left, counselor.
Diane: I do, Your Honor. It’s very dramatic.
Geneva: Objection! The defense is trying to manipulate your affection for the dramatic, Your Honor.
Diane: You know why I was made partner? Jonas Stern was sued for sexual harassment, and he needed to show that he had a female partner. That's all. When the door that you have been knocking at finally swings open, you don't ask why, you run through. That is the simple fact. No one is here to make it comfortable for you. No one is here to appreciate your moping, so this is my advice to you, take a minute for yourself, put on your best gracious voice, find a way to wear a smile, and then come into the conference room ready to thank the equity partners for giving you this opportunity. Because what is given can quickly be taken away.
Alicia: If I were a man, you would never have asked me that.
Diane: Oh, come on. This is about two people trying to run a law firm. This has nothing to do with sexism.
(In a pattern, I just love Diane for saying what's what to Alicia and shattering Alicia's faux-sanctimony. I know that Alicia got the last word and the storm out in that last sexism exchange- but I'll just leave it as Diane's last word because that's the one that I virulently agreed with.
This is a Alicia Florrick-appreciative LJ but I scoff at St. Alicia, as I would on anyone being called a Saint BUT ESPECIALLY Alicia who I don't even regard as a particularly good person by any standards including her own show's.)
Honorable Mentions (besides the ones I already named from the same TV shows): Tara Thornton (True Blood), Skylar White (Breaking Bad), Taystee Jefferson (Orange is the New Black), Juliette Barnes (Nashville), Annie Edison (Community)
You know, it's really a failure on Downton Abbey's part that I just watched the series finale a few days ago. I did enjoy it. I should be feeling sentimental. It had a lot of female characters. But I can't get excited about any of them to put them on the Top 10 or even the Honorable Mention list.