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Power Grid

9 Female Characters We Wish We’d Been More Like In High School


Cordelia Chase, <em>Buffy the Vampire Slayer</em>

Cordelia Chase, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

“Woah, wait,” I can hear some of you saying. “You’re doing a list on teenage girls you wish you could be more like and you choose Cordy, not Buffy? What the heck, Rebecca?!”

Guys. At no point did I want my life to be more like Buffy’s. She had to stay out late and kill vampires on top of doing normal things like homework. She had to kill her first boyfriend, and it was all up to her to prevent the apocalypse. That’s a lot of responsibility, and high school is stressful enough. She’s awesome, but she had a crappy life, and that’s a package deal when you’re the Slayer.

But Cordelia? I’ll admit, when I watched the show the first time I had a knee-jerk reaction against her, because she was popular and mean to nerdy kids, and I was sensitive to both those things. But I rewatched it recently, and wouldn’t you know it, Cordy is freaking awesome.

She doesn’t take crap from anyone, including her friends. For all she’s the stereotypical ditz, she has more common sense than the rest of the Scooby Gang. And the clincher: In season three Xander cheats on her with Willow (which, if memory serves, he actually implies she bears some responsibility for), so Cordelia dumps him. She’s emotionally affected by the breakup, like one would expect, but she has her self-respect too, darnit.

I can take or leave the popularity and the awful ’90s clothes (OK, I can leave those). But the confidence and the blunt attitude? Sign me up.


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  • http://twitter.com/CuriousArtemis Bridget

    The Princess Diaries film was so horrid!!!! Julie Andrews just did not convey Grandmere properly – not her fault, I’m sure, just miscast, misdirected, mis-everything. Everything was altered, from Mia’s family, her friends, her boyfriend, the WHOLE DAMN PLOT. Read the book!!! It’s brilliant and hilarious and oh so feminist friendly.

  • http://twitter.com/keltar93 James Gardiner

    Ironically enough, me and my friends were having a conversation about Hermione just last night, concluding that without Harry and Ron’s wacky antics to get in the way, she probably could’ve destroyed all of Voldermort’s Horcruxes and beat him all on her own.

  • Anonymous

    What no Turanga Leela? Actually after thinking about it for just a moment, she was surrounded by often horrible morons, but she still kicked a lot of butt, got to pilot a badass spacecraft, and pretty much put the kibosh on guff-taking.

  • Anonymous

    I was Lindsay Weir…but I wanted to be Heather Mooney.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anna-Sophia-May/100000092990769 Anna Sophia May

    I wanted to be Keladry of midalen, because she was strong and could control her emotions and she was NOT afraid to fight back if she or anyone else was being bullied.
    plus, she was really good at math, and I suck at math.

  • http://twitter.com/MellyFlickster Melly Flick

    If Veronica Mars hadn’t been included, we would have had a problem.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve had this conversation as well – which is less odd? more? moving on – and my friends and I tend to agree with your findings with a few caveats. Although Hermione was pretty adventurous in choosing to go to Hogwarts with virtually no knowledge of the wizarding world, outside of her first trip to Diagon Alley, she remained fairly risk averse. If it weren’t for the relentless stupidity of Harry and Ron she likely wouldn’t have taken as many chances, at least not of her own volition. I can’t imagine Hermione sneaking out of her dorm or ever disobeying a direct order from a teacher. Although if she were to stray off the path a bit I could totally see her breaking into the restricted section of the library, girl was mad ravenous for knowledge.

  • http://twitter.com/Alonzo2469 Saul Silver

    Cordy wasn’t really a “stereotypical ditz” as she was accepted to several colleges including Columbia University.

  • MacGreenhalgh

    But… but it’s “Clarissa EXPLAINS it all”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rachel-Aparicio/674457519 Rachel Aparicio

    I was going to pitch a fit if Daria wasn’t on here. I can tolerate any other absences but Daria is the indisputable queen.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe I’m strange, but I did want to be like Buffy. I was horribly shy in high school and I would have loved to have had her confidence, which didn’t include the snobbishness of Cordelia. Also, I’ve always loved martial arts, and weaponry (that’s probably why I joined the Marines), so I think it would be great to have her physical strength and prowess as well.

  • Anonymous

    I still think Max was such a hugely important character who flies under the radar. How often do you get to see black women (or black kids in general) play the role of the hacker/genius? How often do you see black girls and black women who get to do anything other than be the heroine’s “sassy” friend and comic relief?

  • http://anna.balasi.com/ AnnaB

    “Hermione is the Queen of Everything, basically.”

    Yes. That’s it. The end.

  • Anonymous

    I was just talking with a friend about how much we both wish we were more like Lyra from The Golden Compass.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    Wow, I can’t believe we missed that. Fixed now!

  • http://mangabotblog3000.popanime.net/ Brand

    How old were the ladies playing Cordelia Chase & Veronica Mars? They both look at least 30 to me. I know they tend to go with adult actors but holy crap neither of these two look like teens to me.

  • Betty Windsor

    I wanted to be Mulan.

  • ampersands

    Sailor Moon? Pssh. Sailor Mercury all the way.

  • ampersands

    I respectfully disagree. I think one of the best things about the series is the way the three friends (and tangentially, Neville, Luna and Ginny) all brought out the best in each other. I think Rowling really emphasizes how Hermione especially becomes more brave/confident from her friendship with Harry and Ron, relying more on her strength of personality than simply her intellect.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, but would you really want to go to prom in a dress made of carpet remnants?

  • Anonymous

    Cordy was pretty much a badass later on in Sunnydale High. Even though she had little reason to, she still helped the Scoobies out. She seemed to do fine in her classes and she had a zero tolerance attitude. Xander cheated on her and she broke up with him. Her dad was arrested for dodging taxes and she got a job. She was brave enough to tell her popular friends off in order to get what she wanted, which at the time was Xander. And her friendships eventually meant enough to her that even though Harmony was so horrid to her, she still refused to let her get dusted when she came to LA.

    Whereas Anya was the same sort of personality, Anya did so out of a lack of human convention. Cordy acted that way because she didn’t tolerate bullshit.

  • http://amidstdancers.blogspot.com/ Shard Aerliss

    “What, I can’t have layers?”

  • http://amidstdancers.blogspot.com/ Shard Aerliss

    Charisma Carpenter was in her mid twenties when the show started. The “teenagers” were all in their mid twenties. I think Nicholas Bendan (Xander) was the oldest.

  • http://amidstdancers.blogspot.com/ Shard Aerliss

    Why would you want to emulate TV teenagers? They’re awful. They make dumb decisions, angst over EVERYTHING, spend way more time thinking about their loins than enjoying life and believe they know everything… teenagers have always confused me. Always.

  • http://twitter.com/sephirothii Daniel E. Jacobs

    to be fair I wanted to date Daria… or a woman like her! I still look for that kind of “Daria” mind set in a woman

  • http://twitter.com/HoneyvonBuren Andrea Alba

    Makes me really happy to see Lydia in this list :’)

  • LizbethAnne

    Somewhat like Daria, but wanted to be more like Daria: perfect summary of my high school existence.
    All of these ladies are fabulous, of course, but Daria always seemed achievable to me.

  • Kate Reynolds

    I never wanted to be Veronica Mars–I always wanted to be Mac!she’s just as smart and sassy, but flies under the rader, and even better–can say NO to Veronica when she crosses a line.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    I believe the list explains why.

  • Kate Reynolds

    I always liked Keladry and identified with her best of Pierce’s Totall women. In CoM, I identified more with Tris–mostly because of physical type (I certainly was not disowned by my family).

  • Kate Reynolds

    agreed. What would have happened to Hermione had the three of them not become friends after the troll incident? I believe HErmione had some self esteem issues before she found acceptance in Ron and Harry.

  • Kate Reynolds

    Actually, that is one of the few places where I like the movie better than the book, but that is more because I just really can’t connect with Meg Cabot’s writing style (I’ve tried numerous times).

  • Anonymous

    As of episode one, Charisma Carpenter was 26, Nicholas Brendon was 25, Alyson Hannigan was 22, Sarah Michelle Gellar was 19.
    Mercedes McNab was 16, so pretty much exactly the same age as her character!

  • Anonymous

    She had to kill her first boyfriend, and it was all up to her to prevent the apocalypse.

    Wait, when did Buffy kill Pike? I don’t remember that. ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anna-Sophia-May/100000092990769 Anna Sophia May

    I read a crossover fic, with Tris being the descendant of escaped Airbenders.
    It was really good.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    Aww, a commenter after my own heart! :)

  • Kate Reynolds

    Ohhh can you link me?

  • Niki Conrad

    To hell with high school, I wanna be Veronica Mars now.

    The thing I love about her character is that she’s not written as the infallible heroine all the time. She has flaws – big ones – like the inability to trust, rushing to judgment and accusation, being almost too cocky … but she still manages to be a class act, despite the horrible way she is treated (rape, nastiness, etc.).

    Cannot wait for the movie.

  • Octochan

    I was already like Daria in high school (and my sister was a lot like Quinn to boot), but I was not nearly as viciously snarky as she was, so I still wish I was more like her!

  • http://www.facebook.com/JaxRawr Jax Madden

    I love all of you for bringing Tamora Pierce into this. I always wanted to be Daine, for her ability to speak with animals and I feel like I identified with her the most because of her headstrong attitude.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Diana-OmegaSama-Davidsson/100000695823547 Diana OmegaSama Davidsson

    I was a HUUUUGE fan of Clarissa when I was a kid. Her clothes were so cool to 10 year old me. And she was so smart to 10 year old me. I ADORED her growing up.

  • http://twitter.com/ribbonquest Ribbonquest

    Daria taught me how to voice my inner snark. But I really wanted to be a magical girl. Amethyst, Sailor Moon, or Alex Mack style would be fine. But not Buffy style. I could never be that physically active.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sdmcpherson Stephen Dudley McPherson

    She was always my favourite.

  • Ciji_NV

    okay, since the Cordelia/Buffy debate has come up…what about Willow. Granted, she started out more like who we really identified with in real life (shy, overlooked), but grew into someone we wanted to be (smart, loyal, magical, with the best boyfriends/girlfriends even if they did end tragically). Except for the evil magic addiction (fairly warranted and a decent flaw in the character) she really is one of the best characters.

  • Anonymous

    :D

  • http://twitter.com/toujoursgai_ mehitabel

    Teen girlhood still a bastion of whiteness, which is actually fairly accurate to how few non-white characters there were for young girls during my younger years. My early tween self really wanted to be as cool as Denise Huxtable though. Or as fashionable as Claudia Kishi (without the academic problems and family pressure)

  • Robert Vary

    I was getting ready to throw a hissyfit if you didn’t include Clarissa Darling. I’m a 31-year-old straight man, and I still want to be Clarissa Darling.

  • Robert Vary

    But she wasn’t a teen! And by all accounts, her teen/high school life was pretty terrible.

  • Robert Vary

    Oh my gosh, I loved Max so much. It certainly helped that she was voiced by the always-awesome Cree Summer.

  • Molly

    Hooray for some Cordelia Chase love!

  • http://twitter.com/omg_vzg VampireZombieGhoul

    My problem with Cordy always was, and still is, that she was an asshole just because she could be. Yes, she was strong and smart and that’s nice — but it’s kind of pointless, in my opinion, if you use that to bring other people down. She got better… after high school. I’d never wish to be like high school Cordy.

  • http://twitter.com/omg_vzg VampireZombieGhoul

    …I do have to admit that that lapse in this article is fixed by Hermoine, though. Best ever.

    And just to throw in one of my own: Chloe from Smallville (early seasons, mostly because I didn’t see the later ones). Did she have an unrequited crush thing going on? Sure, but in a show that was… we’ll say mostly inexpertly written, she wasn’t just made into a single-point character and left as nothing but a pining girl. She was smart and brave and called Clark on his crap… and awesome enough to get added to the comics, when she was one of the few Smallville characters that didn’t originate in them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.truxillo Laura Truxillo

    I can’t even see her doing that. Maybe when she was in sixth year or so.

    The sad thing is, I don’t think of Hermione as much of a learner. Questing for knowledge, yes, but only what’s written down in a book. She frequently just refused, point blank, to listen to anything anybody said to her if her mind was already made up on the subject, even if people were more familiar with the subject than she was. Not just disagreeing with them–just flat-out refusing to ever consider other points of view than her own, which is just not conducive to real learning.

    But I do see her taking risks by her fifth and sixth year, because that was about the time that she really started deciding that she was Right. About everything. Can’t trust Ron to do well in try-outs or Harry to be a good enough team captain to pick a player based on how well they’ll work with a team, better take matters into her own hands. Might as well be sneaky like a Slytherin and make students sign a contract without telling them that’s what it is, with permanently disfiguring results. That sort of thing. By the time she was 16, she was TERRIFYING.

    So, yeah, actually, I think maybe if Ron and Harry dropped off the map in her fifth or sixth year, she might not have defeated Voldemort, maybe, but she probably would’ve been the single scariest thing the Death Eaters ever faced–someone clever, vicious, and armed with pure conviction.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fraydie.bonan Fraydie Bonan

    I just rewatched Angel and god I LOVE Cordy!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anna-Sophia-May/100000092990769 Anna Sophia May

    http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5625466/1/Intersecting-Circles

    warning: it’s not done and it’s been a year since it was updated, though the author said they will, at some point, continue.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anna-Sophia-May/100000092990769 Anna Sophia May

    I just wanted to eat all that junk food and still look good. Claudia was awesome ( though I identified best with Mary Ann.)

  • http://twitter.com/toujoursgai_ mehitabel

    Ha, yeah, in reality I was totally a mix of Mary Ann and Mallory but I would have loved to be as cool as Claudia with the junk food and the “flawless skin” and arty talents and (most awe-inspiring of all) her own phone line.

  • Anonymous

    This a thousand times over! Veronica’s life was… kinda terrible. I mean, she was sassy, but I wouldn’t trade epic sass for having to worry that my boyfriend was actually my half brother for a while. But I wish I’d been like Mac. All the way.

  • Anonymous

    i agree, apart from the fact that in book 2, while she figures out the whole thing out by herself and goes out to put a stop to it, she doesn’t succeed. She kinda needs Harry and Ron to pull it together and fix it without her – something they admit they are going to struggle to do.

    Book three onwards, Harry and Ron basically just get in the way.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    That’s what I’m saying, though. She was presented as a stereotypical ditz early on, and then that was subverted.

  • http://twitter.com/Alonzo2469 Saul Silver

    I thought she came off more as a stereotypical “mean girl” then a ditz. When I think ditz I think of Harmony.

  • Silver Greeneye

    I wanted to be Harry Crewe, from The Blue Sword. She was smart and adventurous, tall and athletic, calm in adversity, didn’t take crap from anyone, no matter their rank, and she had Narknon, whom I wanted for my very own. Did I mention she was tall?

  • http://twitter.com/volatile_hearts Olivia Olmstead

    Lydia, Lydia, Lydia. I could write odes to her but I’m a sucker for Teen Wolf in general :) I ridiculously happy that she was included in this, because there is no HBIC that I admire more than her. And yeah, she’s far from perfect, and her life’s pretty crazy, but after escaping from the hospital and running around naked for 3 days, when she walks back through the school halls like the queen she knows she is, ugh, I was sold! She’s awesome and totally deserves the spot you gave her :)

  • Kate Reynolds

    Wow. I don’t even know where to start. I’m going to have to just say agree to disagree.

  • Kate Reynolds

    Actually that trait of Hermione’s to always have to be right and insist because the book says so it is correct is one of her more annoying traits. Even with SPEW, though her heart was definitely in the right place, she was working on the assumption that she knew what was best for the House elves better than they did and trying to FORCE freedom on them. A paternalistic attitude is just as bad as outright oppression.

  • Kate Reynolds

    I am a HUGE Chloe fan.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.truxillo Laura Truxillo

    I think that was the point where I stopped liking her, really. Realizing that Dobby had to do ALL of the clean-up work in the Gryffindor area because Hermione had basically made it an unsafe place for the other House Elves to even go. And knowing that even just deciding not to go and clean stuff that needed cleaning was probably agonizing for them too. All so she could TRICK them into freedom.

  • http://www.facebook.com/capthien.khitomer Capthien Khitomer

    Buffy had boyfriends before Angel, she just didn’t boff them

  • http://amidstdancers.blogspot.com/ Shard Aerliss

    I read the list (at least for the characters I know). While some characters have admirable qualities, over all they’re not people I would want to emulate. Their cons outnumber the pros. Even Clarissa.

    That’s the nature of the medium though. They’re meant to make the mistakes and stupid decisions real life teens make so real life teens can see themselves in them and maybe feel they’re not alone in the world or avoid those mistakes… not make them too.

    Again; teenagers confuse me. They confused me as a child, as a teen and as an adult.

  • http://twitter.com/Havyn416 Sarah Parker

    (spoilers for The Princess Diaries book series) Mia Thermopolis only gets Julie Andrews as her grandmother in the movie. In the books, her grandmother has tattooed-on eyeliner, drinks sidecars all day long, and has a hairless poodle. But Mia is still totally awesome, and uncovers an old document that transforms her country from a monarchy to a democracy. Plus, she is always trying to save the environment. She originally only agrees to take princess lessons from her grandmother because her father donates money to Greenpeace for every lesson that she goes to.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jen.rivera.92560 Jen Rivera

    I knew Hermione would be on this list. She is a queen.

  • Tess

    I think it would be more correct to say that Harmony was introduced after Cordelia had developed enough character depth that she couldn’t be the ditz anymore.

  • http://twitter.com/Alonzo2469 Saul Silver

    Harmony was a “Cordette”…Regardless Cordy never came across as a ditz to me.

  • Anonymous

    i’m a guy but can i just be all of them.

  • http://twitter.com/prettysortamarv Rosa

    Speaking of Lydia Martin, the actress who plays her is pretty cool too. When asked about her diet she’s been known to reply “I eat until I’m full. Then I stop.” She also majored in Women’s Studies.

    When I was in high school I wanted to be Willow Rosenberg and make-out with Faith, does that count for anything?

  • Randomfire27

    Lynda Day from Gang Press. Witty, awesome, and hiccups at the thought of socializing.

  • Anonymous

    None of these were even on my radar. Except Daria of course.

  • http://www.facebook.com/angelina.eang.7 Angélina Eang

    This list is legit because there is “VERONICA MARS” !
    I still can’t get over the fact that i loved her so much when i was a teenager (wait, I’m only 19 –’)

  • Allison Rhodes

    I wanted to be Hermione so bad when I was little! I was even going to try to audition for her part until I learned they were only accepting kids from the UK. Ah, the dreams of youth!

  • BabeWoreRed

    Love Cordy, she’s badass.
    She was also a great student (let’s not forget) and was also the only one of the whole gang to be going to school while holding down a job. Cordy had her shit together.

  • http://twitter.com/traditora/ Tess

    I agree with your choice of Cordy because it makes sense in the way that her life was way easier than Buffy’s, obviously. But I’d love to have been more like Buffy: confident, strong, with great fashion sense, but also with a sweet, caring disposition and a fierce loyalty towards her loved ones. Heh, I guess that’s kinda obvious for any fan. :)

  • Anonymous

    No Lois Lane? A sad day.

  • Constance

    So long as we leave her movie adaptation out of the equation. She was fine in the first couple of movies, but she later decided everything needed to be presented as sinister, dangerous, and/or orgasmic.

  • Anonymous

    The only teen character I’ve ever really related to was Lindsey from Freaks and Geeks. But I loved Willow – smart, shy, pretty, and one time, at band camp…

  • Myomorph

    Oh yes LYRA! That child had..pluck. Lots and lots of pluck. I love her brave little heart so much.

  • Myomorph

    Something else about Cordy I absolutely love. Remember that episode when Buffy can read minds? (Listen to thoughts type of thing.) Cordy was just…so honest. She said what she thought. Bam.

  • Amourah

    Thumbs up on obscure “Definitely. Probably.” reference from Batman Beyond. Yeh!!

  • WahooNikki

    AGREEEEEED! I loved everything about Clarissa (her name, to start with), her brilliant family, her mismatched clothes, her dude bff, Sam, her pet alligator, Elvis! Every time I throw up I think about her– “Clarissa was right,” I say. “It always tastes like pizza and orange juice!”