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Top 10 Most Powerful Female Characters on TV

VO: Lisa Yang
Script written by John Ward Top 10 Most Powerful Female Characters on TV Subscribe:  Who’re the bossiest female badasses on television, aka the most powerful female TV characters? We’re not talking physical power, such as Wonder woman but positions of power such as Annalise Keating from How to Get Away with Murder, Cookie Lyon from Empire, Liz Lemon from 30 Rock, Peggy Olson from Mad Men, Olivia Pope from Scandal, Selina Meyer from Veep and Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones. Special thanks to our user ninou78 for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at MsMojo's Social Media: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Snapchat:

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Top 10 Most Powerful Female Characters on TV

You better get used to saying "Yes ma'am." Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Powerful Female Characters on TV.

For this list, we're focusing on the small screen women who hold a position of power- leaders who strongly wield their underlings, make tough calls, hold an influential role, and won't be taking any nonsense from, well, anyone. We’re focusing on live-action characters here, so we won’t have any ladies from animated shows on this list. Also, no superpowers, since this isn't a contest of physical strength.

#10: Cookie Lyon
"Empire" (2015-)

When searching for respect, Cookie Lyon only has one speed, and that puts her past anyone in her way. After 17 years in prison to protect her family and investing the capital to get her ex-husband's multi-million dollar company started, Cookie knows some reverence to her is past due. If she's walking through the Empire offices like she owns the place, a case can be made that she kind of does. Fiercely passionate with a short fuse, she’ll go to any length to keep her family together. She's not a lady you're going to out-talk or out-fight anytime soon.

#9: Annalise Keating
"How to Get Away with Murder" (2014-)

Controlling courtrooms and making her Criminal Law students quake in fear, Annalise Keating is the defense attorney you want keeping you out of an orange jumpsuit. Though you'll probably have an easier time staying out of prison by not accepting her internship, since there's no dean's list for getting wrapped up in murder plots. That warning aside, Keating is not only brilliant, but able to keep a clear head–for the most part– in the midst of her complicated relationships with seemingly everyone in her past. In a sea of TV lawyers, Annalise is the top candidate for our legal dream team.

#8: Liz Lemon
"30 Rock" (2006-13)

Would we want Liz Lemon's job? Not sure that "we want to go to there." Liz's time as head writer of " TGS with Tracy Jordan" is hard to romanticize. Her job seems to revolve around constantly quelling situations caused by the cast members' inflated showbiz egos or the writers' weird quirks. Not to mention, having to answer to controlling executive, Jack Donaghy. Though when things get too out of hand, she seems to be the only one able to keep the show, and everyone's jobs, afloat. Liz Lemon's power is never in making things run smoothly. It's– in despite of the odds–making it work at all.

#7: Captain Kathryn Janeway
"Star Trek: Voyager" (1995-2001)

While other characters on our list wield office or political power, this is the only one running a freaking starship! However, things don't start out smoothly for the captain, nor her crew. After the Voyager becomes lost in uncharted space, Captain Janeway has to keep her people calm for a long journey back through the unknown. Meanwhile, maintaining her crew's sanity and safety, she stays a hardnosed leader and scientist as she upholds Starfleet's ethical standards higher than all else. Plus, she still finds time to deal with all that hair in a bun - surely, a battle within itself.

#6: Mary Richards
"The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (1970-77)

Only Mary Richards could apply for a secretary job at a local TV station, then end up as an Associate Producer for the news instead - and as one of the few single, career women on 70’s television. Never remaining fully satisfied, she even tries out for an on-air editorial job, which sadly didn't work out. After five years of hard work, she still doesn't feel respected in her position and requests to be the newscast's producer. She immediately started making changes and despite everyone's second-guessing, Mary delivers a solid broadcast, ultimately proving to herself she belongs in charge. It's Mary’s perseverance, positivity, and ability to roll with the punches that made her influential.

#5: Peggy Olson
"Mad Men" (2007-15)

It was the ‘60s in "a man’s corporate world" where Peggy Olson started at the bottom and fought up the ladder. That’s what makes us notice Olson’s power, how far she had come, not just career wise on “Mad Men,” but how her personality evolved. Once the office’s timid, apologetic mouse, she earned the respect of even Don Draper himself– which is not an easy journey. And while we could argue Joan Holloway really runs that office; it’s Peggy who breaks away from Joan’s office political advice to achieve the job she truly wanted, by excelling instead of just existing.

#4: Olivia Pope
"Scandal" (2012-)

When the Leader of the Free World needs a fixer, there's only one person he calls. After serving as the White House Communications Director for the President, Olivia Pope starts a crisis management firm. She specializes in using her intelligence and motivational skills to cleanup the public images of Washington, D.C.'s key players. Pope doesn't do herself many favors with her complicated relationships–did we mention her affair with the commander-in-chief? Not to mention her family's secret dramas. But, please, don't confuse the chaos for weakness. Olivia is not intimated by the government's elite; especially "bitch babies." And let's not forget about her flawless power suits– Ms. Pope has got it handled!

#3: Claire Underwood
"House of Cards" (2013-)

That cold chill you might be feeling is probably coming off this entry. The modern day Lady Macbeth of U.S. politics, Claire Underwood has had quite the career thus far; from lobbyist, to Second Lady, to First Lady, and finally to a UN ambassador. Certainly one of the best resumes on our list, and she has come a long way into becoming a leader to the public. Her personality is pretty cutthroat, sticking with husband at this point solely to keep images up and to achieve her long-term goals. We just hope one of these goals is increasing her humanity.

#2: Selina Meyer
"Veep" (2012-)

Being second-in-command to the country's top office is definitely noteworthy, though it may have not always felt that way to former Vice President, Selina Meyer. Her day-to-day affairs revolved around more trivial objectives, perhaps not worthy of her office. However, bidding her time the President takes a leave of absence, and Meyer takes the opportunity to jump forward. With heavy narcissism and a crass tongue - away from the press of course - she gets to the Presidency. What's really impressive though is to be so important you have your own personal aide bagman. Seriously, a guy that just handles your bag… and verbal abuse, of course.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Wilhelmina Slater
"Ugly Betty" (2006-10)

Diane Lockhart
"The Good Wife" (2009-16)

Leona Lansing
"The Newsroom" (2012-14)

Carrie Mathison
"Homeland" (2011-)

Quinn King
"UnREAL" (2015-)

Leslie Knope
"Parks and Recreation" (2009-15)

#1: Daenerys Targaryen
"Game of Thrones" (2011-)

Exiled from her kingdom and placed into a forced marriage– that should be the final coffin nail to a princess' legacy. But when talking about the "Mother of Dragons," it's only the kickass beginning. After the death of her husband Khal Drogo, Daenerys rallies what’s left of the Dothraki horde to her following. Relying on her wit, her determination, and her dragons, she builds up an army of thousands from conquering city by city, freeing their slaves. And we can’t stress this enough, but she has trained loyal friggin' dragons! And while Cersei Lannister shows time and time again her cunning grasp of power, it’s the fairer shade of blonde that truly commands and earns the title of Queen. Plus, Cersei doesn’t have dragons.

Do you agree with our list? Who do you think is the most powerful female character on TV? For more commanding top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to MsMojo.

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