The Most Popular Female Character on TV Right Now Might Surprise You

By Glamour

Sep 4, 2015

The Most Popular Female Character on TV Right Now Might Surprise You

Viola Davis may have gotten her lawyer chops on Law and Order: SVU, but it's another female force from the longstanding series that's won over viewers' hearts. In a survey titled "Nobody's Damsel: A Study on Modern Women on TV and the Audiences Who Watch Them" by entertainment agency Trailer Park (in partnership with QC Strategy), the results showed that Olivia Benson, played by Mariska Hargitay, was America's favorite female character by a landslide.

The survey looked at 36 female leads across 17 of the highest-rated, female-centric series on broadcast, cable and streaming networks, including shows such as House of Cards, The Good Wife, Girls, and Homeland. And among all the viewers surveyed, Olivia Benson came out on top with both male and female viewers as the favorite female character—with 21 percent of the vote.

And it wasn't even really a tight race: The next closest character was Cookie Lyon from Empire, with 8 percent of the vote. Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones was next with 7 percent, followed by a three-way tie between Jessica Lange on American Horror Story, Meredith Grey on Grey's Anatomy, and Olivia Pope on Scandal (6 percent).

Not even cracking the top were any of the female characters from popular shows Pretty Little Liars, Orange Is the New Black, Girls, House of Cards, Homeland, Revenge, and How to Get Away With Murder.

So what's up with Benson's widespread appeal? The survey also cites her as the most relatable female character, which certainly adds to her likability. She also has, according to the respondents, all of the traits listed by men and women as most preferred — things like intelligence, toughness, independence, compassion, and self-confidence.

More From Glamour: 
• Turns Out How to Get Away With Murder Isn't Viola Davis' First Time as a Lawyer on TV
• On Your Mark: Army Ranger School Is Now Officially Open to Women
• Bringing Home the Bacon: Women, Money, and Family Dynamics in America
• Women Fishermen in Alaska: "It's a Small but Incredibly Strong Pocket of Amazing Women Up Here"

Photo Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

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