60+ Science Fiction Movies With a Female Protagonist

Celebrating women who kick serious scifi butt

1. 10 Cloverfield Lane

Image for post
Image for post
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

Kidnapped and locked in a shelter by a crazy conspiracy theorist, Michelle must find a way to escape and see what’s going on outside for herself.

2. Advantageous

Image for post
Image for post
Advantageous (2015)

Gwen Koh lives in a world of decreasing fertility and body-swapping. A slow-paced look at the nature of self and the uniqueness of the human spirit.

3. Æon Flux

Image for post
Image for post
Æon Flux (2005)

The survivors of a terrible plague live in a seemingly idyllic city. However, all is not as it seems, and Æon Flux is sent on a mission to discover the truth and hopefully set humanity free again.

4. Alien

Image for post
Image for post
Alien (1979)

Ellen Ripley is part of a mission sent to investigate a distress call. It’s of alien origin, and what they find is terrifying and deadly. The character came back for three more movies in the female-led franchise, kicking alien butt every time.

5. Alien: Covenant

Image for post
Image for post
Alien: Covenant (2017)

Daniels retreads the same territory as Ripley in the latest, uninspired movie of the flailing Alien franchise.

6. Alien vs Predator

Image for post
Image for post
Alien vs Predator (2004)

A schlocky, fan-service battle between franchises, set inside an Aztec ziggurat beneath the Antarctic ice.

7. Alita: Battle Angel

Image for post
Image for post
Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

Alita is a superior cyborg in a dystopian decaying world of robots, centuries after civilization collapsed in a horrific world war.

8. Annihilation

Image for post
Image for post
Annihilation (2018)

An expedition of five women enters a mysterious region known as ‘the shimmer’ to find answers and search for previous expeditions. Lena is a cellular biology professor and Army veteran, searching for answers to her husband’s sickness.

9. Arrival

Image for post
Image for post
Arrival (2016)

Linguist Louise Banks is called in to help with efforts decoding an alien language after 12 mysterious ships arrive and land across the globe. While learning the language of the seven-legged creatures, she begins to hallucinate.

10. A Wrinkle in Time

Image for post
Image for post
A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

Meg Murry is whisked away on an adventure across planets in search of her missing father.

11. Barbarella

Image for post
Image for post
Barbarella (1968)

Jane Fonda stars as the eponymous heroine. Feminist icon or misogynistic wet dream? You decide. Regardless, Barbarella is an early example of a female protagonist of a science fiction movie.

12. Birdbox

Image for post
Image for post
Birdbox (2018)

Don’t look at the Lovecraftian monsters, they’ll turn you crazy. In a unique apocalypse story, Malorie Hayes has to make some difficult decisions, all while blindfolded.

13. Bumblebee

Image for post
Image for post
Bumblebee (2018)

18-year-old Charlie Watson gets a beat-up yellow Volkwagon Beetle for her birthday and discovers there is more to it than meets the eye.

14. Colossal

Image for post
Image for post
Colossal (2016)

Gloria is an alcoholic loser who realizes she can control a Godzilla-esque monster that’s terrorizing Seoul.

15. Contact

Image for post
Image for post
Contact (1997)

Eleanor “Ellie” Arroway detects a message from a distant star. What do the mysterious aliens want, and who will be sent to find out? An interesting story version of Einstein’s quote, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

16. Demon Seed

Image for post
Image for post
Demon Seed (1977)

Susan Harris is trapped in her house by an insane computer with a terrifying purpose.

17. Divergent

Image for post
Image for post
Divergent (2014)

Beatrice Prior is born into an unstable dystopian city in which she doesn’t neatly fit. She uncovers a conspiracy to start a war and sets out to save the people she loves.

18. Doomsday

Image for post
Image for post
Doomsday (2008)

Major Eden Sinclair leads a team of police officers into strictly quarantined Scotland to search for a cure to a terrible disease.

19. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

Image for post
Image for post
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)

Aki Ross is a scientist in a world overrun by mysterious ghostly alien creatures who can kill with a touch. Can she find what she needs to mend the earth’s spirit?

20. Ghostbusters: Answer the Call

Image for post
Image for post
Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016)

Erin Gilbert, Abby Yates, Jillian Holtzmann, and Patty Tolan fight supernatural entities with science and technology in this gender-flipped reboot of the 80s classic.

21. Ghost in the Shell

Image for post
Image for post
Ghost in the Shell (1995)
Image for post
Image for post
Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Two movies for the price of one. An amazing anime and later made into a pretty decent live-action movie with Scarlett Johansson. Major Motoko Kusanagi is a cyborg in a counter-terrorism task force.

22. Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Image for post
Image for post
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

Against a backdrop of giant creatures fighting in cities, Madison Russell has to deal with kidnapping and betrayal as she tries to save the world from titanic destruction.

23. Gravity

Image for post
Image for post
Gravity (2013)

Dr. Ryan Stone is an astronaut on her first mission to space when calamity strikes, forcing her to find creative solutions to staying alive and getting home.

24. Harbinger Down

Image for post
Image for post
Harbinger Down (2015)

In this “The Thing” wannabe, two biology graduate students Sadie and Ronelle join a scientific expedition on a fishing trawler. A crashed moon lander they find comes with more than they can handle.

25. Hunger Games

Image for post
Image for post
Hunger Games (2012)

In a dystopian society where the rich use the poor for entertainment, Katniss Everdeen takes the place of her sister in a cruel deadly sport.

26. I am Mother

Image for post
Image for post
I am Mother (2017)

Daughter is the name of a girl raised alone by a computer called Mother. What is her purpose, and what’s outside the safety and comfort of the facility?

27. Io

Image for post
Image for post
Io (2019)

On a post-apocalyptic Earth where most of the atmosphere is toxic, Sam Walden is one of the last people to leave. Can she find a solution to the pollution problem, or should she leave with the rest?

28. Lucy

Image for post
Image for post
Lucy (2014)

Scarlett Johansson stars as the hapless Lucy in a movie that explores what would happen if humans unlocked their full potential. It’s as silly as it is entertaining.

29. Mad Max: Fury Road

Image for post
Image for post
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Imperator Furiosa is the true protagonist of this movie. Fleeing a disgusting, misogynistic despot, she must lead a group of women to sanctuary with the help of our good friend Max.

30. Marjorie Prime

Image for post
Image for post
Marjorie Prime (2017)

Marjorie talks to a hologram of her late husband to help with her dementia. A touching look at relationships and philosophical questions about the nature of self through a scifi lens.

31. Melancholia

Image for post
Image for post
Melancholia (2011)

Newlywed Justine and her sister Claire try to deal with debilitating depression in the midst of a cosmic calamity.

32. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Image for post
Image for post
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

A charming pre-Ghibli anime movie about Princess Nausicaä living in a world of giant mutated insects.

33. Okja

Image for post
Image for post
Okja (2017)

A South Korean tale of Mija, as she fights to save her beloved, genetically-engineered super-pig.

34. Orbiter 9

Image for post
Image for post
Orbiter 9 (2017)

Nothing is what it seems in this Spanish movie as Helena, a young woman who spent her whole life alone on a space station, is rescued. Is this her chance to find love?

35. Paprika

Image for post
Image for post
Paprika (2006)

Dr. Atsuko Chiba assumes an alter-ego to help patients in their dreams with a special machine. Unfortunately, the dream world clashes with reality resulting in chaos.

36. Pitch Black

Image for post
Image for post
Pitch Black (2000)

While certainly overshadowed by the star power of Vin Diesel in this movie about sonar-sensing killer alien creatures on a planet that goes dark for long periods, there is no doubt that Carolyn Fry is the protagonist. She is the one with the arc, it is her story.

37. Prometheus

Image for post
Image for post
Prometheus (2012)

In this Alien prequel, Elizabeth Shaw is part of an expedition to a distant alien moon to discover the origins of humanity. What they find is terrifying in more ways than one.

38. Resident Evil

Image for post
Image for post
Resident Evil (2002)

In this franchise, based on an early 3D horror video game, Alice must face hordes of zombies created by a bioweapon virus created by an evil corporation.

39. Rogue One

Image for post
Image for post
Rogue One (2016)

Jyn Erso is the protagonist in this prequel movie about stealing the plans to the Death Star that chronicles events up to the start of the original Star Wars trilogy.

40. Rupture

Image for post
Image for post
Rupture (2016)

After dropping off her son, Renee is kidnapped and imprisoned by a nefarious group who are trying to improve humanity through drugs and fear.

41. Species

Image for post
Image for post
Species (1995)

Sil is an alien-human hybrid, created after receiving information from an alien civilization. Are the aliens benevolent, or is it a prelude to invasion?

42. Star Wars Sequels

Image for post
Image for post
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

The third trilogy of the hugely popular Star Wars franchise follows Rey on a journey to fight evil and discover her past and future.

43. Tank Girl

Image for post
Image for post
Tank Girl (1995)

In a future world ravaged by drought, Rebecca Buck teams up with some kangaroo-human hybrids to fight against an evil water-hoarding corporation.

44. Tau

Image for post
Image for post
Tau (2018)

Julia is a young thief, captured and imprisoned by an AI and its creepy creator.

45. Terminator

Image for post
Image for post
Terminator (1984)

Sarah Connor was a ditzy, unassuming waitress until she learned that humanity’s future survival in a robot apocalypse depended on her. Can she survive an attack from a seemingly unstoppable assassin in this time-traveling mind-bending sci-fi tale?

46. The 5th Wave

Image for post
Image for post
The 5th Wave (2016)

Cassie Sullivan fights to survive in a carefully planned alien invasion. Who is her enemy, and who can she trust, and what exactly is the 5th Wave?

47. The Darkest Minds

Image for post
Image for post
The Darkest Minds (2018)

In a dystopian world where a disease has killed most children and left those that remain with supernatural powers, Ruby Daly must use her telepathic powers to escape those who mean her harm.

48. The Descent

Image for post
Image for post
The Descent (2005)

An all-female spelunking adventure turns into a horrific nightmare when they discover something unexpected living down in the cold, silent darkness. Sarah Carter has to fight both friend and foe in her quest to see daylight once more.

49. The Host

Image for post
Image for post
The Host (2013)

Melanie Stryder is a young woman who befriends the parasitic alien inside her after an extraterrestrial invasion.

50. The Invasion

Image for post
Image for post
The Invasion (2007)

The fourth movie adaptation of The Body Snatchers. Nicole Kidman plays the psychiatrist Carol Bennell whose ex-husband is one of the first to start acting strange and otherworldly.

51. The Invisible Man

Image for post
Image for post
The Invisible Man (2020)

A very scary modern retelling of a classic story. Cecilia Kass believes she is free from an abusive ex-boyfriend after his apparent suicide. Is she just imagining he’s still around, or are her fears justified?

52. The Shape of Water

Image for post
Image for post
The Shape of Water (2017)

Elisa Esposito, a cleaner at a government laboratory, develops feelings for an amphibious humanoid and makes plans to help him escape.

53. The Stepford Wives

Image for post
Image for post
The Stepford Wives (1975)
Image for post
Image for post
The Stepford Wives (2004)

A classic satirical story looking at the role of women in American society. Personally, I prefer the original to the remake, but you may find them both entertaining enough. Joanna Eberhart wants to be a good wife, but maybe the price is too high.

54. The Thing 2011

Image for post
Image for post
The Thing (2011)

Kate Lloyd is a paleontologist recruited to help with the discovery of something alien in the frigid frozen wastelands of the Antarctic. It’s a prequel to John Carpenter’s 1982 cult classic.

55. The X-Files

Image for post
Image for post
The X-Files (1998)

Actually, there are two movies that grew from the popular science fiction TV show. Dana Scully is an FBI agent and medical doctor, whose job is to look into strange cases with her long-standing partner.

56. Tomb Raider

Image for post
Image for post
Tomb Raider (2001)

Lara Croft, a posh English woman, becomes a daring action-archeologist and spends her time solving puzzles, dodging bullets, plundering ancient tombs, and kicking butt.

57. Ultraviolet

Image for post
Image for post
Ultraviolet (2006)

Violet Song Jat Shariff is a member of an underground resistance movement in a world where vampirism is a disease. She must try to protect a young boy who is used as a pawn in deadly political games.

58. Under the Skin

Image for post
Image for post
Under the Skin (2013)

A sexy alien, simply called The Female, leads men to their doom in gritty Scotland. Problems begin when she starts developing unwanted feelings and questioning her role.

59. Underwater

Image for post
Image for post
Underwater (2020)

It’s a race against time as Norah Price tries to escape from a deep-sea mining facility after it was damaged by an earthquake. The crushing pressures and oppressive darkness are not the most terrifying thing down there.

60. What Happened to Monday

Image for post
Image for post
What Happened to Monday (2017)

Noomi Rapace stars as seven sisters in a society with a very strict one-child policy. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday must figure out what to do when their identical sibling goes missing.

So there you have it. 60+ science fiction movies with a female protagonist. Many of them are part of a franchise, with multiple movies for you to enjoy. What do you think? Who is your favorite? Have I missed any out? Let’s hear it for all the alien-blasting, robot-stomping, time-traveling, sci-fi heroines out there.

Scifi writer, roboticist, and game developer, 2x Quora Top Writer. I write about writing speculative fiction, computer graphics, AI, evolution, and programming.

Get the Medium app