15 Trailblazing TV Characters From The '90s Who Were Proud To Be Feminists (PHOTOS)

Rebecca Deczynski | Mar 28, 2016 TV

The shows that we watch growing up have a lot of influence on the people we become later in life. So it makes sense that a lot of the shows we loved in the '90s are filled with inspiring, multi-faceted, unique women who aren't afraid of being themselves, even before the world "feminism" may have entered our lexicon.

These 15 characters showed what it meant to be a feminist, even if we may not have realized it.


Image via IMDB


  • Daria from MTV's 'Daria'


    Image via MTV Animation

    It’s no surprise this ‘90s cartoon remains popular among teens and adults alike, even over a decade after its final episode. Daria’s sarcasm and wit added a fresh dose of realness to TV, and her independent spirit can undoubtedly be considered feminist. Plus, she was surrounded by equally cool friends who were also feminist — Jane and Jodie always made sure their voices were heard.

  • Angela Chase from 'My So-Called Life'


    Image via ABC Productions

    Even though My So-Called Life only went on for 19 episodes, it gave Angela Chase more enough depth to serve as a role model to other teenager girls. She thought highly of herself and was unapologetic about it — she compared dying her hair to Kafka’s Metamorphoses, after all. Angela showed it was alright for a woman to be a bit self-indulgent and take charge of her own sexuality.

  • Dana Scully from 'The X-Files'


    Image via 20th Century Fox Studios

    Realist Dana Scully was never shy about calling out patriarchal nonsense, especially when it came from her partner, Fox Mulder. This bold, brainy character was wonderfully multidimensional — and strong as anything.

  • Jessie Spano from 'Saved By The Bell'


    Image via NBC Productions

    You could always count on Jessie Spano to drop some feminist truth bombs on Saved By The Bell. She was never afraid to call out boyfriend AC Slater’s misogynistic comments, and she always protested when male students would refer to young women as “chicks” and “babes.”

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  • Lisa Simpson from 'The Simpsons'


    Image via 20th Century Fox Television

    Who doesn’t love the precocious daughter of Homer and Marge Simpson? Not only does Lisa flourish in her schoolwork and extracurricular activities, she’s also never afraid to speak her mind. We’ll never when Lisa Simpson questioned Malibu Stacy, joined the boy’s football team, and just about any time she expressed her independence.

  • Topanga Lawrence from 'Boy Meets World'


    Image via Michael Jacobs Productions

    With lines such as, "That's destructive, gender-biased thinking, and we have to get beyond that,” Topanga instantly became one of the most memorable feminist characters of the ‘90s. But she wasn’t all talk—she was feminist in her actions too, always sure to stay true to herself. Topanga never allowed gender norms to dictate her love life and she never toned down her intelligence, making her a powerhouse female character on Boy Meets World.

  • Clarissa Darling from 'Clarissa Explains It All'


    Image via Nickelodeon Productions

    Clarissa Explains It All was the first Nickelodeon show with a female lead, proving that everyone could enjoy watching a smart, funny young woman be herself. Clarissa didn’t hide her intelligence and she exuded confidence, showing that while being a teenager is tough, you can still make it out alright.

  • Moesha from UPN's 'Moesha'


    Image via Larry Ford/Corbis

    As a teenage girl, Moesha had to work for everything she got and stood up for her beliefs. There’s an episode where she fights against a sexist member of the Council of Concerned Youth, and another where she refuses to sleep with her love interest Jeremy (played by Usher). Throughout the whole show, Moesha is confident and strong-willed.

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  • Charlotte Pickles from 'Rugrats'


    Image via Klasky-Csupo

    The mother of not-so-nice Angelica may not have been an obvious role model, but she was a great representation of what it's like to be a great businesswoman while also raising a child. Her daughter may be a bit cut-throat, but Charlotte raises her to be as independent as possible. “If Angelica is ever going to make it in the male-dominated power structure,” she says, “she’s got to eat, breathe, drink, and sweat self-esteem.”

  • Roseanne from ABC's 'Roseanne'


    Image via Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis

    As a working class wife and mother, Roseanne proved that being a feminist didn’t mean you have to be a cutthroat female CEO nor a hippie. Her show wasn’t afraid to deal with issues in ways that were wholly realistic. Life isn’t always pretty, after all, and Roseanne showed that was alright.

  • Buffy Summers from 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'


    Image via Mutant Enemy Productions

    She may have seemed like just another high school cheerleader to outsiders, but Buffy Summers really was as tough and fierce as it gets. She didn’t allow herself to be defined by stereotypes, and she certainly didn’t need a relationship to survive. Her ultra-quotable cookie dough speech says it all about being an independent woman.

  • Xena from 'Xena: Warrior Princess'


    Image via MCA Television

    It’s always a treat to see empowered women kicking butt, and Xena was one of the first female action heroes to come to TV, inspiring others, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This sometimes-dark superhero proved that women most definitely have a place in the action world. 

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  • Reggie Rocket from 'Rocket Power'


    Image via Klasky-Csupo

    Amid a crowd of skateboarding, blading, and bike-riding boys, Reggie Rocket did her own thing her own way. Sure, she ruled at extreme sports, but compared to her brother, Otto, and friends Twister and Squid, she was also the mature, level-headed one of the group. Plus, she printed and distributed her own magazine, The Zine, around town, making her a girl with her own mind, talent and purpose.

  • Pepper Ann from ABC's 'Pepper Ann'


    Image via Disney Enterprises

    With a single working mother and an independent younger sister, Pepper Ann was surrounded by feminist role models. The female characters never conformed to societal definitions of femininity, nor ido they ever apologize for being themselves. Plus, Pepper Ann visualized herself as a superhero in her daydreams—how cool is that?

  • Sailor Moon from Cartoon Network's 'Sailor Moon'


    Image via Cloverway International

    Fighting evil by moonlight, winning love by daylight — Sailor Moon proved that you can be tough while still being emotional. Serena never backs away from her duties as a Sailor Scout, even if others accuse her of being a crybaby. She also showed that female friendships can lead to amazing things. There’s power in numbers, especially when it comes to the Sailor Scouts.

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