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Portrait of a Likable Female Character

Annika Barranti Klein

Staff Writer

Annika Barranti Klein likes books, obviously.   Twitter: @noirbettie

What is a likable female character? What are the traits, attributes, personality quirks, habits, likes and dislikes, wants, desires, flaws, and skills inherent in such a character? What, in short, makes her likable? Of course not everyone knows what they find likable in a female character, but there must surely be a few traits that are generally considered likable. I have set out to determine what those are, in order to paint a portrait of a likable female character. Will my findings be universal? Of course they will! A likable female character is a character everyone likes. That’s just science.

Like real women, fictional women are asked to be many things, and often criticized for being the wrong things, whatever those may be. Rather than look at those “bad” traits, I will be giving a rundown of the “good” traits most often found in a truly likable female character.

I’ve scoured books, internet forums, and the underside of my shoe to come up with a description of this…not perfect, but extremely likable female character.

Disclaimer: I will not be discussing unlikable female characters in this essay; I am not actually convinced that they exist! If you find yourself disagreeing with any of these character traits, consider that perhaps you are unlikable.

Disclaimer on that disclaimer: I am not responsible for any self-reflection you may find yourself engaged in as a result of this essay. You may not like what you find, and I do not apologize for it!

Without further ado, let’s get into what turns an ordinary female character into a likable female character.

A likable female character knows what she wants and isn’t ashamed or afraid of her own wants. A likable female character is uncertain, and sometimes changes her mind. She is not rigid, nor is she wishy-washy. She enjoys eating waffles.

A likable female character is strong and can take care of herself. A likable female character has weaknesses and needs help sometimes. She is physically strong and also mentally strong, but has disabilities and trauma. Relatable!

A likable female character is always honest. A likable female character is tactful and keeps things to herself. She is morally upright and questions nothing while questioning everything. She sometimes behaves unethically and often makes mistakes. She understands that the truth is both mutable and immutable.

A likable female character can take care of others emotionally and physically. A likable female character sets firm boundaries to protect herself emotionally and physically. She is a water sign and and earth sign. She knows what you need and does it without being asked. She needs to be told what you need and she might or might not be willing or able to give it. She is an enigma.

A likable female character is extremely confident in herself, even when others are not. A likable female character is insecure and needs to be reassured frequently. She has low self-esteem and a high sense of her own value. She is a diamond in the rough in need of polishing and a well-polished jewel, perfect as she is.

A likable female character can handle anything. A likable female character sometimes gets overwhelmed and needs backup. She works alone and runs with a posse; she needs a life partner and she has no use for romantic entanglements; she values her friendships deeply and she has never gotten along well with other women; she is best both solo and in a group project, and she will lead or follow.

A likable female character is up for anything. A likable female character knows her limits. She’s daring and adventurous; she is human and exhausted. She loves road trips and staying home. She’ll solve the mystery and commit the crime. She doesn’t want anything to do with any of it.

A likable female character is your dream woman and she is available. A likable female character is unappealing and unavailable. She is a sex object and is not a sex object; she both likes and does not like sex; likewise she is interested and disinterested in you, personally.

Now that we’ve determined what makes a likable female character, let me ask you this:

Does any female character fail to meet the criteria of likable?

I thought not.