6. Peggy Olson (Mad Men)
Peggy Olson starts off as an unassuming secretary at Sterling Cooper, gradually getting a taste for what that male-dominated world has to offer. It's her slow and steady climb from the lowest rung to a highly-respected position as Copy Chief that's commendable; she achieved an astonishing feat during an era wherein the odds were stacked against her. Proof that solid ideas pay off no matter what. Watching her battle against society's standards is an exhilarating experience.
5. Jane Tennison (Prime Suspect)
The role of DCI Jane Tennison transformed Helen Mirren from a recognisable actor into a household name. Tennison's fearless and uncompromising vision of law enforcement regularly plants her at odds with her mostly male cohorts. The fact that institutional sexism backdrops her typical exploits, only goes to showcase her unshakable resolve. Catching killers and nailing pimps is tough work if no-one's got your back. Most of the time Tennison doesn't really need it.
4. Dana Scully (The X-Files)
Don't be fooled by the general consensus about FBI Special Agent Dana Scully -- she's not just a skeptical nag there to serve as Mulder's conscience. As the series progresses her confrontations with a host of bizarre supernatural encounters and shady government divisions bring out a sharp, observant and at-times very witty, agent. She's perhaps the only person in the world who truly understands -- and tolerates -- Mulder. For that and her brazen no-nonsense mindset she's even more deserving of our appreciation.
3. Michonne (The Walking Dead)
Joining Rick Grimes' crew of survivors at a point where they needed a no-questions-asked member of the team was crucial for Michonne. Her earlier experiences during the outbreak pushed her to the brink -- forcing her to change her ways and take up the katana. Underneath her stoic exterior beats the heart of a true friend, compassionate to her fellow survivors and always at the front of the pack when a gaggle of walkers saunters into view.
2. Daenerys Targaryen (Game of Thrones)
Going on title alone the Mother of Dragons instils a sense of importance from the get-go. The platinum-locked Khaleesi whose beauty is only rivalled by her panache for conflict politic is not someone you'd want to enrage. She leads her various conquered realms with an unyielding fist. And won't suffer fools. Nevertheless, she's not an unreasonable sort; those dragons do get an awful lot of fuss.
1. Buffy Summers (Buffy The Vampire Slayer)
Sunnydale's sweetheart. The chosen one. High school is literally hell for Buffy, when it's revealed that the school library sits atop the Hellmouth. She fights the beasts with her watcher, Giles, and her friends, and yet the biggest battles are fought internally for this vampire slayer. The colossal responsibility of being "the slayer", the death of a parent, the normal teenage life she must hand over... all while stopping the apocalypse on numerous occasions. Falling in love with two of the bloodsuckers probably wasn't on the agenda, either.