All of Shonda Rhimes's Badass Leading Ladies, Ranked

Zlata Faerman | Jul 26, 2017 TV
All of Shonda Rhimes's Badass Leading Ladies, Ranked
Image: Evan Golub / ZUMA Press / Splash News

Shonda Rhimes
Evan Golub / ZUMA Press / Splash News

Showrunner Shonda Rhimes has taken us on more of an intense emotional roller coaster ride than some of our ex-boyfriends. Say what you will about the drama, but Rhimes certainly has a knack for creating shows that really mess with your head. At the same time, Shondaland series like Grey's Anatomy, Private PracticeHow to Get Away With Murder, and Scandal are replete with fiery leading ladies. Some might be described as utterly twisted, badass b***hes, while others are beloved but, TBH, kinda milquetoast.

So, to honor these weeknight TV heroines, we decided to rank all of Rhimes's leading ladies by how badass we think they are -- and you might be surprised to learn who lands in the top spot. 

  • 20. Arizona Robbins, 'Grey's Anatomy'

    Arizona Robbins, Grey's Anatomy

    Robbins is happy and bubbly 95 percent of the time and her smile is super contagious. When she's not busy saving babies and teaching Karev how to do the same, she's hooking up with hot lady doctors. Clearly, she's living the life.

  • 19. April Kepner, 'Grey's Anatomy'

    April Kepner, Grey's Anatomy

    This good Christian farm girl likes to please everyone around her, which makes her insecure and vulnerable. She treats everyone with kindness and compassion, and while this type of behavior is what *should* make the world go 'round, it's not. We live in a dog-eat-dog world and it's time April grows a set. 

  • 18. Violet Turner, 'Private Practice'

    Violet Turner, Private Practice

    A psychotherapist with her own slew of problems to navigate through? Check, please! I'm completely envious of Violet's patience and willingness to always help others when they need it. Remember when a mentally ill patient sliced her open to steal the baby she was carrying? Ultimately she forgave the woman. What? I'd be in a jail somewhere serving life without parole! She's way too forgiving for my taste.

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  • 17. Michaela Pratt, 'How to Get Away With Murder'


    Not only does Michaela want to be the best in Annalise's class, but she actually wants to be Annalise. She's the first to raise her hand, is totally Type A, and gets my award for Teacher's Pet. She has a good conscience and always feels bad about covering up murders and blackmails. You all know how I feel about characters with no backbone. (See April Kepner.)

  • 16. Naomi Bennett, 'Private Practice'

    Naomi Bennett, Private Practice

    Happily married with a child, she decided one day she wanted to get a divorce. Years later, she cheats on her then-partner with her ex-husband, gets pregnant, and then ends up back with him. Fairy tales, people. My eyes are rolling hard at Shonda, but high-fiving Naomi. Welcome to #16, girl.

  • 15. Maggie Pierce, 'Grey's Anatomy'

    Maggie Pierce, Grey's Anatomy

    Maggie's kind of like that girl in high school who has her own strengths (like looks and smarts), but still finds ways to be jealous of you. Truthfully, it was annoying to watch her give Meredith sh*t for crushing on Nathan Riggs, someone who didn't even like her back. If your sister is (finally) into someone after all she went through, you give it up.

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  • 14. Charlotte King, 'Private Practice'

    Charlotte King, Private Practice

    Cheating, drugs, rape, triplets, oh my! Many of the characters' distaste for Charlotte has a lot of us feeling the same. No one really likes her, they hate that she dates Cooper, and, personally, her jealousy of Violet has always been a turnoff. For me, she's neither here nor there ... and that's why she's the pivot point in my list as #14.

  • 13. Callie Torres, 'Grey's Anatomy'

    Callie Torres, Grey's Anatomy

    Not addressing Callie's sexuality in a post about badasses would be a huge mistake. Her path of struggles to ultimately live in peace with her sexual identity was no easy fete. In a world that lacks acceptance, being true to oneself -- no matter the repercussions -- makes you a badass. (Also, guys, she snagged the hottest baby daddy. We miss you, Mark Sloan!)  

  • 12. Amelia Shepherd, 'Grey's Anatomy'

    Amelia Shepherd, Grey's Anatomy

    Amelia's teenage years were filled with partying and doing drugs. She hit rock bottom when she overdosed and was legally dead for three minutes before her brother saved her life. Talk about a turning point. She followed in his footsteps and became a highly respected brain surgeon. A little far-fetched for my taste (maybe?), but still nothing short of complete badass.

  • 11. Laurel Castillo, 'How to Get Away With Murder'


    Quiet, sensitive, and always staying under the radar, Laurel is a force to be reckoned with for sure. Laurel is that (perfect) combination of a good liar and a strong woman. I can't hate on that, since she wants to protect the ones she loves. 

  • 10. Stephanie Edwards, 'Grey's Anatomy'

    Stephanie Edwards, Grey's Anatomy

    It takes a real badass to walk through a fire to save a kid's life, right? Hell, she even set fire to the outlaw responsible. If we remember one thing about Stephanie Edwards on the show, it's that. Guess I can't blame her for taking a break from her job to go travel and explore the world. 

  • 9. Miranda Bailey, 'Grey's Anatomy'

    Miranda Bailey, Grey's Anatomy

    Started from the bottom, now she's here: the hospital's chief. No-nonsense Miranda plays by the rules and never take favorites. (Not even when it comes to her super-handsome resident hubby.) Chief Bailey is pretty badass in my book because of her ability to juggle it all and still be on everyone's good side. That is not easy.

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  • 8. Cristina Yang, 'Grey's Anatomy'

    Cristina Yang, Grey's Anatomy

    If April Kepner had an opposite, it would be Cristina Yang. This take-no-sh*t cardiothoracic surgeon unapologetically dominated every situation to her favor. I rarely saw a vulnerable side to her earlier on, so when Shonda kicked it up a notch with some arduous situations, I doubled up on the popcorn and wine. Cristina had me at the edge of my seat a couple of times, but she ultimately followed her heart, her dreams, and her head. That makes her a badass in my book. 

  • 7. Addison Montgomery, 'Private Practice'

    Addison Montgomery, Private Practice

    Listen, I don't condone cheating, but sleeping with both McSteamy and McDreamy certainly warrants some sort of Lifetime Achievement Award, right? Welcome to lucky #7, Addison Montgomery.

  • 6. Abby Whelan, 'Scandal'

    Abby Whelen, Scandal

    Abby Whelan is tough, selfish, and power-hungry, but deep down she still has morals. She's hurt a lot of people she cared about along her way to the top (like when she almost got Huck killed!), and not only does she feel bad, but she also tries to repair the damages. A badass with morals can sometimes be an oxymoron. Abby's a perfect example of that and slides into #6.

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  • 5. Bonnie Winterbottom, 'How to Get Away With Murder'


    Bonnie is a compelling mix of loyal and tough as nails, which is what brings her in at #5. She protects the people she loves and doesn't let anything stand in the way of that. Case in point: She killed Rebecca (like, we're talking murder here, people) to protect Annalise. I am all about having a loyal badass in my corner!

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  • 4. Izzie Stevens, 'Grey's Anatomy'


    Izzie's story line with Denny was (literally) heart-wrenching. I think I stopped breathing when she cut his LVAD wire, and lost three pounds in tears when he died later on. She's one serious badass for using the $8.7 million she received from his will to open a free clinic at the hospital. Izzie, we miss you and happily put you at #4.

  • 3. Annalise Keating, 'How to Get Away With Murder'


    You either adore Professor Annalise Keating, or you hate her, or you don't know how to feel about her and so that makes you hate her even more. (Hi, that's me.) Annalise is a force to be reckoned with and her character truly makes you question your own morals and judgments, which is something I don't really like to do. She lies, cheats, and blackmails, but does it all to protect not only herself, but the people she cares about. I love all the feels she gives me, so welcome to #3, Annalise.

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  • 2. Olivia Pope, 'Scandal'

    Olivia Pope, Scandal

    Welcome to #2. If you hadn't guessed it from the beginning, Olivia Pope is the baddest b**ch on the block. She'll stop at nothing to gain power in Washington, DC. Guys, she killed the vice president with a freaking chair! Just beat him to death. Straight up. Beat. To. Death. If that's not about as badass as it gets, what is? Oh yes ... That's right, we're only at #2. We still have one more ...

  • 1. Meredith Grey, 'Grey's Anatomy'

    Meredith Grey, Grey's Anatomy

    I went the saintly route for #1 because I think innately good people should be put on a pedestal. Not only is she the namesake of the show, but Meredith Grey has struggled through the departures and deaths of many close to her without so much as a hiccup. This badass maintains her career as a doctor and raises three children amidst such consuming drama. It's utterly exhausting to watch, but she perseveres every single time. That's what makes Meredith Grey a saint, and thus, my pick for #1.


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