There are many reasons to remember the ’90s. Iconic fashion, memorable music videos, and groundbreaking pop-culture moments that would define a generation of kids. The ’90s brought with it a new wave of feminism with a sensational line-up of girl groups introducing “Girl Power” to the zeitgeist. Women were taking their place in the world as business leaders and organizers and were inspiring the masses to stand up for equality! Television was not exempt from this wave of female empowerment and delivered several influential female characters that perfectly embody the attitude of the decade. Here’s a list of the most inspiring female characters from popular TV series’ of the 90s.

10 Clarissa

What better way to kick off this list of inspiring ladies than the chick who taught us everything we know? Clarissa Explains It All was a popular Nickelodeon sitcom that ran from 1991 to 1994. Actress Melissa Joan Hart portrays the ever-knowledgeable Clarissa; a young teenage girl navigating a life of school, family and other activities.

Clarissa helped us debunk all of the weird and sometimes frustrating ways that others interact with us. Being a teenager can be confusing! Teenagers don’t always understand themselves, let alone each other and worse: Adults. It truly was a relief that Clarissa was there to, well…explain it all.

9 Tia & Tamera

Two for the price of one!  These terrific twins both deserve a spot on this list. Sister, Sister was a comedy series about a set of identical twins who were adopted separately at birth and reunited by chance one day as teenagers. This show ran from 1994 through 1999 for a total of six seasons. We follow Tia Landry and Tamera Campbell as they finish growing up after discovering each other’s existence and merging their two families together. While Tia was the brainy and book-smart twin always getting good grades, Tamera was the social butterfly: trendy and popular among friends. The two were very different and beautifully showed how individuality and uniqueness conquer all. These girls prove that even if you are identical twins, everyone has something unique and special to bring to the world.

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8 Buffy

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a drama series that followed the life of a young woman who was regularly tasked with fighting off vampires, demons, and plenty more otherworldly creatures. This series was extremely popular among audiences, running for seven seasons from 1997 to 2003. Buffy personified bravery and strength. She helped protect the world from evil creatures that wished to cause harm to humans. While Buffy had fierce combat skills as well as the brains to outsmart her enemies, her greatest power was possibly her capacity for empathy. Buffy was not only a protector, but she also put herself in harm’s way for justice!

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7 Ashley Banks

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was (and still is) a widely popular comedy series starring Will Smith. Anyone who has heard the theme song to the show already knows the synopsis. While the Banks family had several colorful and unique characters the youngest child of the family is still revered today as a feminist icon: Ashley Banks. Audiences watched her grow from an adorable child to an outspoken and intelligent young woman. Ashley is remembered for all of her truly iconic quotes about what womanhood is all about! Through Ashley, we are reminded that a woman’s success has nothing to do with having a boyfriend.

6 Blossom Russo

Before Mayim Bialik portrayed the ever-intelligent Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory, she played a funny, energetic and fashionable teenager on the sitcom titled Blossom. Airing from 1990 until 1995, Blossom follows the life of Blossom Russo, a young teenager being brought up in a household full of men. The show often dealt with very heavy topics such as the death of loved ones and substance abuse. In the end, Blossom shows us that we are built to survive even through extremely difficult circumstances. She remains a beautiful, funny and memorable part of  90s television.

5 Ellen Morgan

Ellen DeGeneres is known worldwide for being a hilarious comedian as well as an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. Inspiring and kind, Ellen continues to pave the way for all people to better understand and love one another through acts of service and kindness. Before her talk show days, Ellen was the title character for a comedy series aptly named Ellen. Ellen Morgan was a bookstore owner in her thirties dealing with a life of friends and family.

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Today, this series is admired for being one of the first shows to feature an openly gay character. In the two-part episode, “The Puppy Episode,” Ellen deals with the realization of her sexuality and subsequently comes out as gay. At the risk of public scrutiny and the cancellation of the show, this act of bravery remains an important piece of American television history and meant so much to members of the LGBTQ+ audience who might have felt recognized and validated by this moment.

4 Carrie Bradshaw

Talk about iconic! There could be no list about empowering female characters without the mention of Carrie Bradshaw! Sex and the City follows the lives of four women living life in New York City. While the show offers somewhat of a fantasy about a fashionable and wealthy life in the big city, it is ever relatable for its comments on what dating and being a woman in the 1990s was like.

Carrie remains a staple in ’90s nostalgia and a source of sex-positive inspiration. She exhibits the truth that women have a right to the love life they desire, even if it pushes against the status quo.

3 Khadijah James

Another New York Story! Living Single was an American sitcom that aired from 1993 to 1998. It followed the lives of six young African-American roommates living in New York City. Khadijah James (played by Queen Latifah) was the editor and publisher of her own magazine. It was titled “Flavor Magazine” and focused on the interests of the young, urban community. Khadijah was able to make a name for herself as her magazine was relatively successful, earning the attention of athletes and celebrities. Not only did this character represent the hope for young black women to achieve professional success but she represented the plus-size community on television as well. Khadijah was an incredible and awe-inspiring character in American television.

2 Fran Fine

She had style! She had flare! She was there. That’s how Fran Fine booked a job as the Nanny for a wealthy family in New York. After suddenly losing her job in cosmetics, by chance and certainly by charm she was able to score a sweet new gig. The Nanny was an American sitcom that ran from 1993 until 1999. Fran Fine was beautiful, hilarious and quick on her feet. She always knew how to turn a bad situation around. Not to mention her fashion sense was out of this world! Fran delivers some of the most iconic looks of the ’90s. She teaches us how to turn lemons into lemonade (or at least a lemon print dress).

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1 Lisa Simpson

The Simpsons are America’s favorite family, due in part to their comical and often dysfunctional nature. The eldest daughter of the family, Lisa offers a level-headed and poignant point of view amongst a family, school, and town full of adults who often make questionable decisions. The Simpsons first aired in 1989 and is currently in it’s 31st season! The show has never been shy about matters of pop culture and politics and Lisa has been instrumental in giving a truly feminist perspective on life in Springfield. Lisa has talent, brains and heart and has offered female audiences inspiration through her bravery. She’s never been afraid to speak up and stand her ground for what she believes in!

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