Blog Thoughts from Amber, On Writing

Top 10 Heroine Stereotypes…

So I saw an amazing post from another Indie author regarding what makes a male lead sexy.  It was tongue in cheek and fabulous…and it inspired me to want to do my own take on this idea with female lead cliches.  Thanks, Dannika Dark, for the inspiration!

1) The Only-Human-Chick-in-the-Crazy-Ass-World-of-Supernatural Heroine:

Queen of the inside scoop, this leading lady is the only one in creation who gets to be let in on all the finer points about things that go “bump” in the night.  Often smart, but unpopular, this brainy loner easily accepts her newfound reality, if for no other reason than to escape her old one.  She’s driven primarily by external forces, exercising her own will as little as possible, especially if it puts her in mortal danger. Why do we love her still?  She gets the hotties, plain and simple.  And secretly, we kinda want to be her, too (don’t lie, you know you do).

2) The Clueless Wonder/Damsel in Distress Protagonist:

Now, before I start, I should explain that I have an inexplicable soft spot for these girls.  Their “wandering into chaos” M.O. just does it for me even though it should annoy the piss out of me. The Clueless Wonder is the master of never knowing what’s going on, even if it’s blatantly apparent (like the building is on fire and she can’t quite figure out why everyone is running out of it), which then leads to her other namesake: Damsel in Distress.  She’s completely incapable of lifting a finger to save her own ass, but, luckily for her, someone is always willing to do the job for her.

Maybe I’m just a sucker for being rescued.  By a hot guy.  With great abs.  And tousled hair. Who’s undoubtedly well endowed…

3) The Badass Without a Cause Heroine:

Probably my least favorite of all the heroine species, she’s dangerous, but not in a good way. She’s got all the right credentials: immortal/hard to kill, super strength, shady colleagues, looks killer in leather, and is always packing something illegal in her waistband. The problem arises when her lack of judgment leads to more problems than solutions. Throw shotguns and hand grenades into that equation and the death toll rises quickly.  If she were capable of packing as much brain power as she did ammo, she’d truly be a force to be reckoned with.

4) The Help Me, But Don’t Help Me Heroine:

She’s the Fickle Fanny of the bunch who just can’t seem to decide if she wants to bear her burden alone or not.  She’s a glory hog who can’t acknowledge her team of minions (think Martha Stewart), who helped her get to the end of the journey. It’s ALWAYS about her.  This character tends to make me insane because everything has to be on her terms.  She has an undying need to appear self-sufficient, but clearly lacks the tools to be.  She wants/needs the assistance of those more knowledgeable than her…right up until she doesn’t.

Generally, this is the protagonist that I find myself wanting to punch in the face the most, but…when she gives into her moments of breakdown/weakness, I find myself begrudgingly cheering her on.  Until I want to slap her again.

5) The Bed Hopping Heroine:

Really…this one shouldn’t require a whole lot of explanation.  She’s the character that EVERYONE wants to sleep with, including, but not limited to: hot vampires, rugged werewolves, dark mages, sketchy sorcerers, questionable fae. your mailman, the creepy guy you always see at the coffee shop, and your Uncle Franklin.  ALL of them want to sleep with her because she’s apparently the only woman in the world–and lucky for them, she’s more than happy to oblige.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s always a reason involved as to why she needs to have sex with various sinister immortals.  In fact, the world’s very existence may well be dependent on her ability to so.  We should really send her a fruit basket to thank her.

Maybe a candygram?

6) The Too-Torn-to-Function Heroine:

This girl (and yes, I mean girl), is the one who would get hit by a train as she straddled the track, trying to figure out which amazingly hot guy flanking her she should pick.  Her indecisiveness is all but paralyzing. What I really want to point out to her (being older and far more wise), is that she can’t make a wrong choice.  Both boys are always stunningly beautiful, madly in love with her, AND willing to die for her.  Where’s the problem here?  I’m happy if my guy is willing to unclog the toilet for me.

7) The Cannon Fodder Protagonist:

Unlike her cousin, The Clueless Wonder, Cannon Fodder takes a slightly different path.  Where CW seems to just happen upon chaos (and by happen, I mean land right in the middle of it), CF seems to genuinely try to NOT be what she is.  She often thinks she’s doing everything right, only to find out that she’s once again tightened the noose around her own neck.  I happen to really enjoy CF because her intentions are generally good or helpful, and she (usually) learns from her near death experiences.  The poor girl just can’t catch a break.

8) The Dances With the Dark Protagonist:

Girl gone wild in all the wrong ways.  She’s the one that you find yourself yelling out loud at in public places while you read because her “Warning: This man is likely to eat you” alarm is clearly broken.  She frolics in ominous alleys, willingly sleeps in creepy basements, and frequents nefarious establishments.  Why?  Because she’s thinking with her heart (or not thinking at all).  She always falls for the baddest boy, or demon, in town.  The nice thing about D with the D is that she’s redeemable, though it’s usually a 50/50 split on that outcome.  I’ll give her one thing…she always keeps it interesting.

9 )The Mercenary:

There’s nothing heroine or protagonist about her.  She’s an unbalanced cocktail of psychosis, rage, and vengeance, packaged up into one undoubtedly hot supernatural ticket.  She knows no rules but her own, and we all adore her for it. Willing to win at any cost, she mows down her adversaries without even breaking a sweat. Bad guys and good guys alike need to beware.  If you see the Mercenary coming, do yourself a favor and run.

10) The Girl I Wish I Was Heroine:

The perfect blend of flawed and fabulous, this leading lady knows how to milk emotion out of a reader, good or bad.  She’s by far the most relatable character going, and one of the most interesting to watch grow over a novel or series. Believable, but fallible, she’s the perfect blend of all the other heroines.

The boys all love her, but don’t want to do dirty things to her like the Bed Hopper. She has moments of Clueless Wonder behavior, but tends to pull it together when the chips are down.  Though equipped with an inner Badass in one way or another, she’s far too aware of her shortcomings and wouldn’t dream of wandering the streets with a sawed off, looking for trouble.  She’d probably shoot herself in the leg anyways.

She knows that she can’t always go it alone, even if she dreams that she can, and though the sea of men that often surround her cause a temporary dilemma, she always manages to pick a team and stick to it.  Unlike D with the D, if her libido drives her to flirt with the dark side, her inner wisdom shines through…eventually.  CF is probably her greatest tendency, which usually reads as more endearing than annoying.  As for her inner mercenary… I think if you push ANY woman far enough, you’ll see that crazy bitch pop out.  And you don’t want none of that 🙂

No matter your favorite, these ladies bring a certain charm and entertainment to the page that keep us all wanting more.  I look forward to a day when my schedule is far more balanced, allowing me to reacquaint myself with the heroines that made me love the genre to start with.


  1. Cool list! I wish you’d added examples and/or pics!

    1. I didn’t want to site examples and alienate someone who may love a character I can’t stand. As for pics…that’s just time I don’t have 🙂

  2. […] Top 10 Heroine Stereotypes… ( […]

  3. Kendell Piller says:

    LOL!! I sooo agree with #4!!! Help me….don’t help me … me! I seriously want to pull my hair out! ……..but I always finish the book….and she always gives in.

  4. dannika D. says:

    haha, let me get my fruit basket on reserve. The clueless wonder would have to include the doe eyed girl with the quivering lip who hurls herself against the sheets in a crying fit because she doesn’t think that he loves her. Oops, that’s the book I just got finished reading 😉

    The Mercenary is the one I can least relate to in reading a book. She’s the one who isn’t just strapped with daggers and grenades, but usually has an oozie tucked in her nether regions. She spits on men with profanities, right before she beds them.

    Love this list!

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