25 Bravest Leading Ladies and Real-Life Heroines

Posted by on July 18, 2012

Pixar just celebrated the release of its newest film, Brave, starring its first-ever female lead. With female empowerment at an all-time high in recent decades, gutsy role models have been appearing onscreen, in books, and in real life. It’s a bit surprising that Pixar didn’t have a female star sooner. Although Princess Merida does seem pretty hardcore, there have been plenty of women in fiction and throughout history who rival her when it comes to being brave. To prove it, here are the 25 bravest leading ladies and real-life heroines in recent memory.


Amelia Earhart

Adventurous aviation pioneer and author Amelia Earhart won the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross for being the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Although she disappeared in 1937 while attempting to fly around the world, she still serves as an intrepid role model for girls to this day.


Jane Eyre

Perhaps literature’s earliest feminist heroines, Charlotte Bronte’s enduring character remained honorable and unwavering despite the many hardships she faced.


Rosa Parks

Ms. Parks stood up for her rights by remaining seated, and in doing so, sparked a movement that led to long-overdue equal rights for African Americans.


Hermione Granger

Let’s face it—neither Harry nor Ron would’ve survived their first year at Hogwarts without clever, resourceful Hermione. Even the most frightening situations, she always had a solution.


Lisa Ling

This fearless journalist travels around the world and back to deliver news coverage on controversial international and domestic issues.