18 Movies & Shows That Give Good Girl Power Vibes

power girl movies with strong female characters

This one’s for the girls … and the boys!

Nurturing our girls today will give them the strength to break that glass ceiling tomorrow. This is why we’d like to introduce you to some of the most powerful princesses, warriors, voyagers, oddballs, and fashion icons who’ve left their marks on screens big and small. Featuring strong female characters in front of and behind the lens, the following shows and movies reinforce the weight of empathy, compassion, and nonconformity with their narratives and adventures.

But, hey—don’t get us wrong: We’re not in the business of exclusion here. In fact, little guys, grown men, and the ever-popular man-child are all welcome to dive into the female-driven stories below. Here’s betting they’ll find themselves fangirling over these fierce femmes who are breaking barriers and shaping the future of the screen.

Girl Power Movies


Brave is a girl power movie with strong female characters


One of Pixar’s more underseen and under-adored films, Brave tells the story of a fiery little warrior named Merida who defies Scottish custom, challenges fate, and in turn curses her family. It’s this curse that she journeys to undo. But beyond the action, themes exploring the complex mother-daughter relationship and the need to be unapologetically oneself heighten the narrative, offering viewers a heroine who’s fearless and fearlessly independent.

Stream it on Disney+


Matilda is a family movie with a strong female character
Sony Pictures


She may be only five years old, but she’s proof that even pint-sized forces can move mountains. Matilda, the story of an oddball with telekinetic powers and a conviction for standing up for what’s right, gets the screen treatment with a magical adaptation directed by its narrator, Danny DeVito. Mara Wilson stars as the titled hero and does Roald Dahl’s classic tale justice with an exuberant spirit that continues to shape childhoods and inspire little girls and every kid who wants to stand tall.

Stream it on Netflix


Mulan is power girl movie


The ’90s enjoyed a league of top-tier insta-classics from Walt Disney Studios, including The Lion King, Toy Story, and Beauty and the Beast. Also around this time, a young woman named Fa Mulan took to the big screen. A maiden with serious sword skills, Fa disguises herself as a man to join the Imperial Army in place of her father, an injured war veteran. Selfless and heroic, she became one of the studio’s most celebrated heroines while reminding the world that true courage is gender blind.

Stream it on Disney+


Moana is a Disney film with strong female characters


“True love’s kiss” isn’t even an afterthought in this sea-faring tale about a girl, the ocean, and her will to brave uncharted waters. Paying homage to Polynesian culture and history, the film borrows its name from its titular heroine, who recruits a muscle-bound demigod to help her complete a mission that will save her island. Complete with a serenading soundtrack from Lin-Manuel Miranda, this tropical adventure is as enchanting as it is empowering.

Stream it on Disney+


Frozen is all about girl power


Audiences had no idea what they were in for when they bought tickets to this wintry wonderland of Nordic folklore. Adapted from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, this charmer flips the script on the traditional fairy tale, instead offering a story about the power of sisterhood. Blazing this new trail for Disney princesses are Anna and Elsa, siblings who eventually scoff at the idea of Prince Charming (and his kiss), embracing self-discovery, acceptance, and family bonds in his place.

Stream it on Disney+


Ecanto is a family movie with strong female characters


Mirabel isn’t gifted. That is what her family—loving though misguided—would have her believe. Part of the vibrant Madrigals, a Colombian brood living within the walls of an enchanted casa, our bespectacled teen protagonist is the only one without a superpower of some sort. That is until her household shows signs of cracking, and our crafty little wiz gets to the core of why. We’ll spoil nothing more here but will say Encanto is full of strong female characters attesting that there’s power in one’s true colors.

Stream it on Disney+

Little Women

Little Women is a movie with strong female characters
Sony Pictures


No matter which adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s seminal novel you stream—(love the 1994 version, partial to Greta Gerwig’s innovative 2019 take)—this gold mine of strong female character arcs, gender defiance, and unbreakable kinship is rich with girl power. The story belongs to the March sisters, Jo—the spirited and fiercely passionate creative whose ambitions shatter tradition—in particular. But each sister is her own force, etching her own story with her own voice and her own pen.

Stream it on Amazon

Raya and the Last Dragon

Raya and the Last Dragon is a movie with strong female characters


Tasked with saving Kumandra, a fantasy world composed of five lands that were once unified in their love for divine dragons but are now divided by dark sinister forces, Raya sets out to track down Sisu, the last dragon needed to restore order (spoiler alert: Sisu’s also female). And even though the action goes down in a mythical realm of make-believe, the core message at play is very real: To be trusted, one must also trust.

Stream it on Disney+

Related: 100 Movies Every Kid Needs to See Before They Grow Up

TV Shows with Strong Female Characters

Sailor Moon

Sailor Moon is a TV show with strong female characters
Toei Animation


Remember when anime classics dominated cartoon lineups in the good old days? Think Belle & Sebastian, Speed Racer, Pokémon, and Dragon Ball Z—good stuff but male-dominated. One place of anime fiction girls could find representation? Sailor Moon. Though imperfect in its take on feminism, this retro fave about a schoolgirl who fights evil with her squad illuminates female friendship and the vigor that comes from teamwork. Luckily, it’s found a home in streaming and is cruising to newfound popularity.

Stream it on Hulu

Doc McStuffins

Doc McStuffins is a tv show for kids
Disney Jr.


A toy story about a six-year-old doctor who cares for the stuffies and lovies in her play clinic, Doc McStuffins is an animated series that believes imagination is the best medicine. When Dottie “Doc” McStuffins puts her magical stethoscope to use, anything is possible—including time travel. But the narratives go beyond the fantastical here, boldly venturing into heavy topics like adoption, military deployment, and cancer.

Stream it on Hulu

Steven Universe

Steven Universe is a cartoon show with strong female characters
Cartoon Network


Okay, so we know the title character of this superhero series is a boy. But anyone who’s watched even just one episode of this cosmic adventure knows it’s radiating with girl power. We’re talking about the Crystal Gems—Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl—the alien warriors keeping Beach City safe and teaching their little sidekick along the way. As for Steven, he’s half-Gem, half-human, inheriting his powers from his mother, Rose Quartz, the leader of the Crystal Gems, who has a beautiful story to tell.

Stream it on Hulu

Punky Brewster

@moonfrye via Instagram


In 1984, we were introduced to an eight-year-old Punky Brewster squatting in an abandoned apartment in Chicago with no parents and no peers, just a dog named Brandon. Over the next four seasons, our favorite spunky rebel would challenge stereotypes and conformity while marching to the beat of her own drum and setting her own sartorial trends. Should you feel so inclined, the Punky reboot does a decent job of tackling topics of the modern age, like sexuality and gender identity.

Stream it on Peacock

Carmen Sandiego

Carmen Miranda is a TV show with a strong female character


In the ’90s, Carmen Sandiego was a vehicle for virtual globe-trotting and sharpening one’s geography skills. But with Netflix’s glossy reimagination, the Latina super-thief who always dons a red coat and hat gets the origin story she deserves. Voiced by Gina Rodriguez and fierce in her femme-ness, Carmen vows to take down the evil academy that raised her. This series is so well-rounded and scripted that even the teens, tweens, and adults in the room will look forward to Carmen’s next thrilling caper.

Stream it on Netflix

The Proud Family

The Strong Family is a TV show with strong black female characters


Black women are given their flowers in Disney’s original Proud Family and its reboot, Louder and Prouder. Not only are strong Black women behind both the voices of the series and the legendary cameos (Raven Symone, Solange Knowles, Sheryl Lee Ralph), but female representation on the screen is championed all the way from teen protag Penny, a magnet for misadventure, to Tae-Bo-loving Suga Mama, the madcap matriarch. It’s a vibrant celebration of culture with strong female characters that will never lose its shine.

Stream it on Disney+

Dora the Explorer

Dora the Explorer
Nick Jr.


Notorious fourth-wall breaker, Dora is an adorable Hispanic pioneer who, with the help of her monkey named Boots, a backpack with personality, and an all-knowing map that can carry a tune, teaches mini viewers the 123s of problem solving. The show itself is interactive, with Dora encouraging preschooler participation, and so is its impact, universalizing bilingualism and empowering preschoolers to be beacons of possibility.

Stream it on Prime Video

The Baby-Sitters Club

The Babysitters Club is a TV show with strong female characters


Whether by page or by cable, nearly every young woman growing up in the ’80s compared herself to the babysitters in Ann M. Martin’s grade-school saga, settling on one character to emulate, her personality most closely matching one’s own. It’s only when said fan grew up that she learned she has a little bit of each character in her. This is a gloriously diverse ethos Netflix’s phenomenal reboot about tomorrow’s leaders founding their own small business gets from episode one. It’s so good.

Stream it on Netflix

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

She-Ra is a TV show with strong female characters


There’s a lot to live up to with a moniker like Princess of Power. For Adora, an orphan whose metamorphosis into She-Ra comes from wielding a magic sword and reciting a mantra, that power is a fusion of fantasy, female strength, and friendship. One of the most celebrated shows furthering representation for LGBTQ+ audiences, this new She-Ra pays homage to the ’80s original while furthering the legacies of its female warriors.

Stream it on Netflix

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

My Little Pony

A tonic for dark times, this soul-soothing series about the adventures of a purple unicorn named Twilight Sparkle and her pony friends bucked stereotypes for nine seasons over 11 years. And surprisingly, it worked its magic not only on its targeted demo (which is 2 to 10, by the way) but also on every adult with a beating heart. The Pony fandom is real and isn’t dissipating just because the series took its final bow. Queue it up; you’ll see what we mean.

Stream it on Netflix

Related: 18 High School Movies That Actually Get It Right


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