More Than Tough Enough

It’s been a while since I wrote about television.  And in light of March being Women’s History Month, I started thinking about female TV characters that I really like.

Now it was tough trying to narrow down my choices.  There were stars of comedy, drama, variety, adventure.  But in the end, my favorite TV series are cop shows.  No doubt about it.  And that’s when I thought of the female police officers and detectives so prevalent on television these days.

There was a time when women on cop shows were only wives or girlfriends of the men on the series.  Or they were victims or criminals.  And while there was an occasional attempt at giving the viewer a glimpse of life as a woman police officer, those appearances were few and far between.  Then in 1974, Police Woman starring Angie Dickinson premiered.  It was a hit and audiences started getting used to a female detective.  A few years after that, Cagney & Lacey began its run.  It was a series that combined detective work, female friendship, and the ups and downs of balancing career and home.  From there, we were off and running.

Today, it’s hard to imagine a police drama without the presence of a strong female character.  Women came into their own, demonstrating that being a smart, tough cop isn’t for men only.


Alexandra (Alex) Eames – Kathryn Erbe (Law & Order: Criminal Intent)
Anita Van Buren – S. Epatha Merkerson (Law & Order)
Brenda Leigh Johnson – Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer)
Christine Cagney – Sharon Gless (Cagney & Lacey)
Debra Morgan – Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter)
Grace Hanadarko – Holly Hunter (Saving Grace)
Jackie Curatola – Jennifer Esposito (Blue Bloods)
Jane Rizzoli – Angie Harmon (Rizzoli & Isles)
Joss Carter – Taraji P. Henson (Person of Interest)
Kate Beckett – Stana Katic (Castle)
Kay Howard – Melissa Leo (Homicide: Life on the Street)
Kono Kalakaua – Grace Park (Hawaii Five-O)
Lucy Bates – Betty Thomas (Hill Street Blues)
Maria LaGuerta – Lauren Vélez (Dexter)
Mary Beth Lacey – Tyne Daly (Cagney & Lacey)
Olivia Benson – Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit)
Samantha Baker – Sonja Sohn (Body of Proof)
Sarah Linden – Mireille Enos (The Killing)


I’ve decided to concentrate only on American TV series featuring the police, and not other law enforcement agencies.  But I know there are plenty other shows to draw on for a similar list.  And not just from the genre of detective series.  Any type of show is fair game.  So who are your favorite tough women on TV?