From Frodo Baggins to Harry Potter to Anakin Skywalker, boys often get to be “The Chosen One.” Plucked by fate and prophecy, these boys get to save the world. Us girls, unfortunately, frequently get relegated to romantic interests or sidekicks—if we’re even present. Even when women are chosen by fate, they’re often lambasted by fandoms as “Mary Sues” too convenient for the plot to be real characters of depth.
What I love about Sarah Raughley’s epic new YA Fate of Flames (read the extended excerpt here!) is that all of the “Chosen Ones” are monster fighting, sassy, strong girls who either break down or subvert stereotypes. Fate seems to have remembered that girls can save the world too!
With Fate of Flames in mind, I wanted to come up with a list of some of my favorite strong female “Chosen Ones,” women who don’t just accept fate but either fight for their own futures or find empowerment through their responsibilities. Surprisingly, this turned out to be somewhat of a difficult task, which speaks to a fundamental lack of strong female characters and our society’s prejudices against the idea of a woman destined for greatness. To all the established and budding content creators out there: let’s make this list longer!
In the meantime here are some amazing books, TV shows, Anime, and manga that prove women can save the day too!
Aly in The Trickster’s Choice
In Tamora Pierce’s sequel series to The Song of the Lioness, Aly runs away from home after a heated argument with her legendary mother Alanna, King’s Champion of Tortall. Things don’t turn out well for Aly. Pirates kidnap her and sell her as a slave to the noble Balitang family. When the Balitang family falls from the King’s favor, Kyprioth the Trickster God reveals that he has been meddling with Aly’s fate. However, Aly’s no ordinary kid who might wilt in the presence of a God. She’s got the power of the magical Sight and isn’t about to let some god decide her destiny. Instead she strikes a deal with Kyprioth to get the future that she wants.
Usagi in Sailor Moon
I remember running around my neighborhood with as a little kid singing, “Fighting evil by moonlight/ Winning love by daylight/ Never running from a real fight/She is the one named Sailor Moon!” and pretending that I could actually transform into a Senshi and fight evil. Sailor Moon was one of the first shows I ever watched that portrayed girls destined for greater things than finding a prince. Usagi starts out as your average schoolgirl, until Luna, a mysterious cat, bestows upon her a magical brooch that allows her to transform into Sailor Moon, destined united the Sailor Senshi and save the world. Usagi’s a bit of a damsel in distress at first, but over time with the help of her fellow Sailors she becomes a true defender of love and justice.
Buffy Summers in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Thousands of years ago in ancient Africa, the Shadow men captured a girl and infused her with the heart, soul and spirit of a demon. Bestowed with incredible strength, speed, and healing powers, the girl became the first Slayer, destined to fight demons until her death calls upon another Slayer. Fast forward to 1996, fate chooses California teenager Buffy Summers to become the next Slayer. Initially Buffy is a reluctant heroine who even considers running away when she hears a prophecy that she will die young at the hands of an ancient Vampire. But with the help of her loyal friends, the Scooby Gang, Buffy lives up to her destiny as the world’s protector until the awesome final episode (spoiler alert!) where she rejects fate and gives this fantastic speech: “In every generation, one Slayer is born, because a bunch of men who died thousands of years ago made up that rule. They were powerful men. This woman is more powerful than all of them combined. So I say we change the rule.” How’s that for taking down the patriarchy?
Emma Swan in Once Upon a Time
Emma Swan is a pretty awesome character for multiple reasons. She’s an intelligent and resilient sheriff, and she’s a capable single mother to Henry. She’s also the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, destined to break the Evil Queen’s curse. Emma, a modern woman and natural skeptic, doesn’t just accept a fairy tale prophecy. In the end, her sense of justice prevails and she enters the fairy tale world to restore everyone’s happy endings—but in her own way of course.
Yona in Akatsuki no Yona
While some of our Chosen Ones actively work to reject their fate (ahem, first season Emma Swan), Yona, in the manga Akatsuki no Yona, gains purpose from her prophecy. Yona is the spoiled princess of the Kingdom of Kouka. She spends most of her time goofing off with her friends Hak and Soo-Won, oblivious to her father’s struggles holding together the disparate tribes of the country. On Yona’s 16th birthday, Soo-Won and the Fire Tribe stage a coup and murder King Il, forcing Yona and Hak into exile. When an ancient Priest foresees that Yona is the reincarnation of Hiryuu, the First King of Kouka, destined to reunite the four legendary dragons, Yona wipes off her tears and sets out to fulfill her destiny, take back her country, and avenge her father.
Possible future additions?
I think with the amount of incredibly detailed internet theories—and I’ll admit my own bias—we can probably add Rey and Daenerys Targaryen to this list in about a year. I mean, Rey did figure out how to use the Force and a lightsaber pretty quickly, and Daenerys seems to check off a lot of those characteristics consistent with “The Prince that was Promised” prophecy…. we’ll see.
What do you think? Any forgotten favorite female Chosen Ones? Let us know in the comments!