Kids are impressionable little things and the media that children consume has no small impact on the values they eventually call their own. Just think back to your own childhood. I guarantee you there's a host of fantastic animated women and girls (though not as many as you would have liked) who you favored and looked up to (as much as you can look up to a fictional cartoon). And guess what? They're not all Disney princesses. In fact, many of the great female characters of your childhood weren't Disney princesses and these 17 awesome animated female characters prove that you don't need a crown to be a badass.
I know we all tend to dwell on the impact of Disney heroines and while they're a big deal for sure, they just aren't everything. There are so many other fictional people from the '90s and 2000s who have earned just as much attention and acclaim. Though you might not have realized it at the time, your childhood was full of kickass non-Disney ladies (both animated and live action) who taught you what it meant to be a woman. And though this list of animated heroines is by no means exhaustive, it should give you a little glimpse of the great characters who permeated our adolescence without the help of the Mouse House.
1. Ms. Frizzle, The Magic School Bus
I had lots to say about Ms. Frizzle but was rendered speechless by this GIF which is the best thing I've ever seen.
2. Francine Frensky, Arthur
Francine was a pain in Arthur's ass and I loved her for it. She was tough, she was smart, and she was never afraid to speak her mind. She was a feminist icon before I knew I was a child feminist.
3. Helga G. Pataki, Hey Arnold!
Helga G. Pataki was my world. She's sassy, independent, and strong-willed with a penchant for poetics. She didn't let anyone push her around and all I wanted in life as a child was for her to pluck that unibrow and find happiness.
4. Reggie, Rocket Power
Reggie was just as skilled and brave as all the boys and she wasn't afraid of a challenge. She was wise beyond her years and she also had a 'zine which, though I didn't know what that was at the time, is still pretty rad.
5. Anastasia, Anastasia
Ummmm, all I have to say is, check out those wings. Eyeliner on FLEEK.
6. Jesse, Toy Story
Jesse was a fine addition to the Toy Story crew and was the first developed female toy we saw in Andy's bunch. Jesse was a confident toy from the start and she wasn't afraid of carving out a place for herself in Andy's world of toys.
7. Fiona, Shrek
Fiona chooses to be an ogre instead of a beautiful princess to be with the man she loves. And with those ears, that's saying something about her character.
8. Lilo, Lilo & Stitch
Though she may be Disney, she is certainly not a princess. What she is, however, is a total badass. Lilo sings to her own tune and has stellar taste in music. Not to mention that snarky sense of humor.
9. Carmen Sandiego, Where On Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?
Carmen Sandiego was one hot mama and even before I knew what badasses were, I knew that Carmen Sandiego was one. She looks fierce in that killer red trench that perfectly matches her Mac Ruby Woo lipstick, she's well-traveled, and she uses her intelligence to track down bad guys. What more could I ask for in a childhood icon?
10. Wonder Woman, Any Movies/TV Shows That Feature Wonder Woman
In a world with far too few female superheroes, Wonder Woman is a goddess among men. Though she is a tad hyper-sexualized, she's still tough as nails with a penchant for justice so I find myself solidly planted on the Wonder Woman bandwagon.
11. Lana Kane, Archer
Though Lana Kane is an animated female intended for the adult crowd, I couldn't not put her on this list. Lana is incredibly strong, both physically and mentally, and she doesn't take crap from anybody. Couple that with her intelligence and epic one-liners and you have the perfect animated woman. Just keep her away from your kids until they're older.
12. Velma, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?
Though rendered useless by the loss of her glasses, Velma was the brains behind the whole Scooby Doo gang's operations. Scooby and Shaggy were off eating pot brownies and soothing their munchies while Daphne helped Fred tie a double windsor knot in his ascot. Velma couldn't count on those jokers. She was the HBIC of the Scooby Doo crew and for that, I thank her.
13. Daria, Daria
As if this one needs any explanation.
14. Angelica Pickles, Rugrats
Angelica might have been a brat but she was the kind of brat you could see growing up to be the CEO of her own company.
15. Eliza Thornberry, The Wild Thornberries
As a pretty weird kid myself (thanks, homeschooling), Eliza Thornberry was my girl. She marched to the beat of her own drum (you know, with the whole 'monkey best friend, talking to animals' thing) and was a strong young girl with good morals and a courageous streak. Good for you, Eliza.
16. Jane, The Jetsons
Remember that scene from the credits where George hands Jane a dollar and she grabs his wallet instead? Jane is a spicy lady and I think we would have been friends.
17. Patti Mayonnaise, Doug
Guys. The same person who voiced Patti Mayonnaise plays Yoga Jones on OITNB. Consider my mind blown.
See? We've got more than Disney Princesses to lean back on, ladies.
Images: Nickelodeon; Giphy (17)