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Top 10 Iconic Movie Heroines of the 2000s

VO: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Dimitrios Vadrahanis
In the aughts, these leading ladies stole the show. For this list, we’re looking at female protagonists of films released during the 2000s. However, we’re not including any animated characters. Because some of these entries reveal important plot points, consider this your spoiler alert. Our list includes Hermione Granger, Neytiri, Elle Woods, Lara Croft, Erin Brockovich, and more! Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Movie Heroines of the 2000s.
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Top 10 Movie Heroines of the 2000s


In the aughts, these leading ladies stole the show. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Movie Heroines of the 2000s.

For this list, we’re looking at female protagonists of films released during the 2000s. However, we’re not including any animated characters. Because some of these entries reveal important plot points, consider this your spoiler alert.

#10: Elle Woods
“Legally Blonde” (2001)


She’s pretty, peppy, and popular – and she’s about to prove herself. Elle’s long-time boyfriend abruptly dumps her, arguing that she’s not serious enough for him. Our girl is heartbroken but determined to succeed, and gets into Harvard Law School. Although she struggles at first, she surprises her stuffy classmates with her keen intellect and fresh perspective. Elle is such a standout that she works on a high-profile murder trial, which becomes her ultimate test in more ways than one. But with Delta Nu, Paulette, and Bruiser by her side, this sorority sister shows she’s not just a pretty face.

#9: Selene
“Underworld” franchise (2003-)


The 2000s saw plenty of women dealing with horror, such as Alice in “Resident Evil” and this vampiric assassin. Selene is a Death Dealer, specially trained to hunt enemy werewolves called the Lycans. The species have been at war for centuries, and Selene learns that head Lycan, Lucian, is still alive. As she continues hunting, Selene uncovers a vampire conspiracy, falls in love with a human, and tries to defeat the Lycans once and for all. Appearing in four sequels, this heroine is out for blood – and keeps on killin’ it.

#8: Lara Croft
“Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” franchise (2001-03)


She’s a beloved video game character, and an iconic action hero. On the console and screen, Lara Croft is an archaeologist with a flair for adventure. In the first film, Lara faces off against the Illuminati in search of the mysterious Triangle of Light. In the sequel, Lara and crime lord Chen Lo vie for the Cradle of Life, which houses Pandora’s box. A dangerous job for sure, but also one involving tons of globetrotting, quick thinking, and death-defying stunts. Beauty, brains, and brawn, Lara has bungee jumped her way into our hearts.

#7: Gracie Hart
“Miss Congeniality” franchise (2000-)


When a bomb threatens the Miss United States pageant, this FBI agent swaps her badge for an evening gown. Gracie goes undercover as Miss New Jersey, and becomes a pageant favorite for her friendly nature and unique talents. While bonding with the other contestants, Gracie learns the prime suspect is closer than anyone thought. She sticks to her guns and goes through with the pageant, competing while closing in on the culprit. Gracie not only saves the day, but she also places 1st-runner up. On stage or on a mission, Gracie takes the crown.

#6: Neytiri
“Avatar” (2009)


This otherworldly heroine is a member of the Na’vi clan, a humanoid race that lives on the planet Pandora. Humans are colonizing Pandora and using it to mine unobtanium, which threatens to destroy the Na’vi and their home. After Neytiri saves the life of human Jake Sully, the two become close and he supports the Na’vi cause. This leads to a full-on battle between the species, putting Jake, Neytiri and the entire planet at stake. But with Neytiri’s help, the Na’vi and Pandora are in good hands.

#5: Jean Grey / Phoenix
“X-Men” franchise (2000-)


As a member of the X-Men, this mutant can read minds and has telekinetic powers. In the first movie, Jean manages to save Rogue from Magneto’s clutches, all while keeping her cool. But her powers are only getting stronger. Sometimes, however, Jean’s alter ego Dark Phoenix takes over and wreaks havoc. Torn between her split personalities, the X-Men must do whatever it takes to save the day, even if it means fighting their old friend. After all, being a hero sometimes has to mean making sacrifices.

#4: Erin Brockovich
“Erin Brockovich” (2000)


Based on the inspiring true story, this film follows Erin, a single mom who finds work in her lawyer’s office. While working on a real estate case, she suspects that the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, or PG&E, has contaminated the town’s groundwater with chromium, making several residents sick. As Erin meets more and more townspeople with tumors and other illnesses, her suspicions are correct. Rallying over 600 plaintiffs, Erin gets the evidence she needs to take PG&E down. The class-action lawsuit led to a $333-million settlement, and it all began with this tough-as-nails heroine.

#3: Yu Shu Lien
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000)


This 18th-century Chinese woman is given a prized sword, only for it to be stolen by a masked thief. As Shu Lien and her partner Li Mu Bai find out, the culprit is a Governor’s daughter named Jen Yu, along with her mentor, the notorious Jade Fox. Jen is a gifted fighter, and proves to be a formidable opponent even for someone as experienced as Shu Lien. The women come from two different worlds, but both struggle to reconcile their personal and professional lives. With so much on the line, it will take an epic battle for them to realize what matters most.

#2: Hermione Granger
“Harry Potter” franchise (2001-2011)


This Gryffindor gal is a gifted young Muggle-born, and one of the brightest students Hogwarts has ever seen. Hermione starts off as unsure of herself and her abilities, and is deeply afraid of failure, but she comes into her own soon enough. As Hermione gets older and even wiser, she also becomes much stronger, defending herself, her friends and others against all sorts of evil forces. By the time she graduates from Hogwarts, Hermione has found friendship, love, and herself. Part witch, part brainiac, she inspires Potterheads everywhere to work their magic.

Before we get to our number one pick, here are some honorable mentions:

Lisbeth Salander
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2009)

Shosanna Dreyfus
“Inglourious Basterds” (2009)

Nyota Uhura
“Star Trek” (2009)

#1: The Bride [aka Beatrix Kiddo]
“Kill Bill” (2003-04)


This katana-wielding assassin is attacked and left for dead on the day of her wedding rehearsal. When she comes out of a coma four years later, The Bride is devastated to learn that she is no longer pregnant. Her former colleagues from the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad are behind the massacre, and are ready to bite back. She finds and kills them one by one, defying death herself. But when The Bride finally tracks Bill down, killing him will be her toughest job yet. An expert assassin and an even stronger woman, The Bride isn’t just our top heroine; she’s a straight up badass.
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