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Top 50 Older Women in Fiction - Grandmas Get Thing Done


Summon for hire

Pictured: 87-year-old cosplayer Beverly from Georgia winning DragonCon
Welcome! To another Talking Time Top 50, where this time we're shining the spotlight on the woefully under-represented demographic of older women in fiction.

Sixteen of you scoured your memories and collections to come up with your faves, votes have been tallied, and I can tell you it's a tight race all the way through. No time for fancy framing devices here - like most of these characters, we're just going to cut through everyone else's nonsense and get right to it.


Summon for hire

#49 (tie)
General Leia Organa

Age: 53-54
Source: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, The Rise of Skywalker
Created by: George Lucas et al
Portrayed by: Carrie Fisher

Points: 36, Votes: 2, Highest: ViolentVixen

Leia Skywalker Organa Solo, as a general of the Resistance for the last three episodes of the Star Wars nonology, is pushing the low end of our target age range and I'm certain she would have ranked much higher otherwise. Nevertheless, she represent an icon of perseverance.

I'm gonna cheat a bit here and just slip in this little essay from Kristen Baver, an editor at starwars.com:
Kristen Baver said:
It is arguably one of the darkest days for Leia Organa as an individual and a leader.

Her son — or rather the persona he inhabits in Kylo Ren — and the First Order have just annihilated the Resistance fleet and its base on D’Qar, chased the last survivors across the galaxy, and bombarded the freedom fighters even as they ran for cover in an abandoned Rebel Alliance fortress. In rapid succession, Leia sees the Resistance numbers cut down to a handful of fighters aboard a lone ship, the Millennium Falcon, and her brother gone, passing on to become one with the Force after a heroic last stand to save her life and keep the movement alive.

It would be understandable if, in this moment, Leia simply gave up. No one could fault her for it after spending her life fighting against first the Empire and then the First Order, enduring the losses of her adoptive parents, her planet, her husband, and now her brother among so many other friends, allies, and individuals. Surely, she must be exhausted. How much can one person take before they crack?

Yet Leia doesn’t break down.

She may have lost the battle, but she still intends to win the war. And despite the fact that no one answered her distress call from Crait, seeming to signal that hope is running out in the galaxy at large, Leia does not crumble. She surveys the damages like the war-time general she is, the wounded and the exhausted pilots and fighters in her care. At the center is Rey, mourning the loss of her Jedi Master, Luke, and holding the broken pieces of the lightsaber that was once owned by his father, Anakin.

Even though Leia has begun to hand off command to the next generation, allowing Poe Dameron to lead the way to their escape, she’s still the highest ranking Resistance fighter among them and the defacto leader. Rey’s question is simple: “How do we build a rebellion from this?”

Leia in The Last Jedi

Instead of hopelessness, what Leia sees around her are the ingredients for a new Rebellion, in much the same way that her parents before her built the Rebel Alliance from the seeds of a few senators and diplomats who opposed the Empire’s rule. Leia knows better than anyone what can be accomplished through hard work, willpower, and the willingness to keep believing. To someone on the outside looking in, the Resistance may appear to be defeated, reduced to a handful of rebels on a single ship. Among them, a singular Jedi with no lightsaber and incomplete training. And that’s enough.

“We have everything we need,” Leia says confidently. And that ability to soldier on, the face of the Resistance refusing to show weakness or sadness or defeat, rallying the few individuals that remain so that they might continue to fight, is what makes this Leia’s greatest moment.

ViolentVixen said:
It hurts she isn't higher on my list. I know if Carrie Fisher hadn't died there would have been a lot more for the character in the third movie and I wish I could have seen that.


Summon for hire
I probably won't have time to update over the weekend, so I wanted to leave you with two quick bonus posts.

The first is shamelessly self-indulgent. Here's icons of half a dozen characters I had on my own list that received no other votes. Can you name them?



Valdez Museum of Video Game Box Art Intern
(he / his / him)
Leia is a great pick. I didn't think of her though, probably because she had a lot of history in the original trilogy and a smaller role in the most recent. Still, a good call!


Summon for hire
Bonus post number two highlights some other voter's top picks and also serves as an Honorable Mention list - these four characters all topped someone's list but got no other votes, leaving them a single point shy of rank 50! Apparently, though, two of them are technically spoilers so click at your discretion.

Jeri Blank - Strangers With Candy
Marjory the Trash Heap - Fraggle Rock
Sasara Amiki - The Caligula Effect 2
Granny Next - Thursday Next

If the people who voted for these want to give us a report on why they're so awesome (under spoiler-tags if necessary), please do!


????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
I can only name one of those characters* but I do know 1 of the others (but can't remember her name) and recognized where 1 of the others is from. The anime character seems vaguely familiar but I don't think I know her.

From top left (I think - I am on mobile right now):
#2 is [nope, wrong character] from Willow.
#1 is from The Dark Crystal.
#7 is from Doonesbury.

*I was wrong.
Oops it didn't even occur to me to look up Leia's in-universe age, I totally thought she was in her 60s by that point.

I think either 2 or 5 is one of the Vuvalini from Fury Road and now I'm super upset I forgot them. They totally should have gotten a bigger role in that movie.

Johnny Unusual

I probably won't have time to update over the weekend, so I wanted to leave you with two quick bonus posts.

The first is shamelessly self-indulgent. Here's icons of half a dozen characters I had on my own list that received no other votes. Can you name them?

My guesses are

Raiden from Mortal Kombat
Dunno but she looks badass
Is this from Emma? More people should watch/read Emma. The anime/manga, not the Jane Austen book.
The Duchess of Doonesbury.

q 3

here to eat fish and erase the universe
Sasara Amiki - The Caligula Effect 2

If the people who voted for these want to give us a report on why they're so awesome (under spoiler-tags if necessary), please do!

I'll admit some recency bias here as I'm currently playing it, but I put Sasara Amiki from The Caligula Effect 2 as my #1 because she's both a great character and unique for the medium. The Caligula Effect games are just shy of being the "Persona with adults" that so many people want, though it's not obvious from their aesthetics. They use the premise of being trapped in an MMO Ivalice Hatsune Miku's VR high school dystopia as an excuse to give everyone teenage avatars even though most of the cast are in their twenties or thirties... or are a 86-year-old grandmother.

Which is technically a spoiler but is quickly alluded to by everything from her mannerisms and tastes to even the names of her battle skills. In combat she serves as a tank, wielding a naginata that she elegantly uses to parry and counter attacks as she takes hits for others. And that reflects her personal arc, which examines her belief that she ought to put herself at risk for her younger companions simply because she has less time left. She can seem ditsy and easygoing despite the dire situation, but she is often the most insightful and perceptive member of the group and knows just what to say to defuse a tense situation.

(Caligula 2 also has a canon nonbinary character who is awesome and treated awesomely by the story. Overall it's a massive improvement over the first game, and can be fully enjoyed without any prior knowledge, so please consider giving it a chance!)


Arm Candy
You had the perfect opportunity to call this thread "Top 50 over 50" and you didn't do it.


Summon for hire
........... when you're right, you're right.

Meanwhile y'all guessed most of my solo votes between you, but for the record they are, left to right:

Aughra from The Dark Crystal, Fin Raziel from Willow, Kya from the Legend of Korra, Nanefua Pizza from Steven Universe, Jaya Ballard from Magic the Gathering, Kelley Stowner from Victorian Romance Emma, and Lacey Davenport from Doonesbury.

Fin Raziel was my partner's first pick - she was exiled and turned into an animal by the evil queen, and when she got de-transformed much later she was like, oh dang I'm old.... *shrug*, well, time to get things done. She kicks ass.

Nanefua is the respected grandma of a pizza restaurant family who later runs for and wins the town mayorship, and does a much better job of it than the previous lifetime politician office-holder.

Lacey was basically the Last of the Moderate Republicans in (Doonesbury) congress. She could have some old-fashioned proclivities, but she would actually listen to advice and try to do the right thing.

More top 50 coming later today.


Summon for hire

#49 (tie)
Olivia "Central" Gladstone
Age: 68
Source: Invisible Inc.
Created by: Klei Entertainment (Jamie Cheng et al)

Points: 36, Votes: 2, Highest: JBear

In a dystopian future where the world's governments have been overthrown by mega-corporations, "Central" is the founder and leader of Invisible, Inc., a freelance intelligence agency secretly working to bring them down.

JBear said:
I'm going to be the only vote for this lady, and that's a crime, because she's 68 and a total badass. That said, she's pretty much just Mallory Archer without the humour.

I haven't played this game (apparently it's a stealth-centric X-COM-like, looks pretty cool) so perhaps those who have can chime in. Looks like there's DLC that also allows you to play a younger version of Olivia from her previous career in the Pan-Euro Infosec Agency, where she's still 50.


Summon for hire

Renata Flitworth

Age: "Elderly"
Source: Discworld - Reaper Man
Created by: Terry Pratchett

Points: 39, Votes: 2, Highest: Torzelbaum

Miss Renata Flitworth ran a farm on the plains below the Ramtops, and employed as a farmhand one Bill Door, who also happened to be Death. A practical sort, she decides that he's good people despite learning his true identity, and helps him out when he's in a pinch.

(I haven't actually read this one, so as always feel free to chime in.)

Dr. Nerd said:
Her friendship with Death with was very sweet.


Summon for hire

Miss Marple

Age: "an old lady", well into her 70s going by some backstory in one of the books
Source: various Christie novels and short stories
Created by: Agatha Christie
Portrayed by: Gracie Fields, Margaret Rutherford, Angela Lansbury, Dulcie Gray, Helen Hayes, Ita Ever, Joan Hickson, Geraldine McEwan, June Whitfield, Julia McKenzie

Points: 40, Votes: 2, Highest: Patrick

Jane Marple is an amateur consulting detective in the village of St. Mary Mead in England. She has a shrewd intelligence, an encyclopedic memory of local goings-on, and a "remarkable ability to latch onto a casual comment and connect it to the case at hand".

Apparently Christie created the character after having a spinster appearing in one of her earlier mysteries changed into a young girl when the story was adapted for stage - having none of that, she went and made her main character an old woman specifically to give them a voice.

JBear said:
I've honestly consumed very little in the way of Miss Marple fiction, across all mediums, but I've liked what I've been exposed to of this cool old lady what solves crimes, as I'm a sucker for detective fiction.
Apparently Christie created the character after having a spinster appearing in one of her earlier mysteries changed into a young girl when the story was adapted for stage - having none of that, she went and made her main character an old woman specifically to give them a voice.

I did not know that, interesting, and good for her!

Johnny Unusual

I assumed she'd rank quite a bit higher. I've never actually seen or read a Marple story but her popularity precedes her.

Weird fact: there was a Poirot/Marple anime with direct adaptations but with a young kid sidekick girl and her pet duck to tie the characters together and also feature youth appeal, which I would assume Christie would say the character did not need. That said, apparently you could excise the girl and her duck and it was an otherwise extremely faithful adaptation of both characters' stories, down to the incidental dialogue.

The only other change was the Poirot's friend Inspector Japp getting a name change for... understandable reasons, considering the audience.

I will say, I think the character designs are sadly too generic. Both easily look like they could be background characters.


Yes, that Russian author.
Jeri Blank - Strangers With Candy

Oh Jeri, Sweet Jeri.

Jeri Blank is very explicitly 46 (and stays 46 for all 3 years in which her series takes place), but I put her as my top choice because she lives in a world where she may as well be 100 and 15 at the same time for how out of touch she is. A self-described "boozer, user, and loser," Jeri Blank was a high school dropout who ended up in prison for an undisclosed number of decades. Realizing the error of her ways, she decided, after prison, to pick up "right where she left off" and go back to high school as a 46 year-old freshman.

And her TV series (Strangers with Candy) is so freaking good at making that hilarious.

Jeri somehow embodies the knowledge of a street-smart junkie and the innocence of a pre-teen learning important life lessons at the same time. She is capable of being completely amoral, then turning on a dime to remember the importance of friendship, telling the truth, and family (even when those things backfire spectacularly). What makes her so incredible is her wholehearted commitment to everything she attempts, and her ability to shift that same level of commitment to a completely different goal on a moment's notice. Strangers With Candy is filled not only with Jeri's antics, but with the moderately unhelpful advice from a number of "older" women (who are typical high-school authority figures, but due to the conceit of the show are just about as old as, or slightly younger than, Jeri).

If you have not seen this show go find it. It is worth your time.
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Summon for hire

Colleen Donaghy

Age: 80-ish?
Source: 30 Rock
Created by: Tina Fey et al
Portrayed by: Elaine Stritch

Points: 41, Votes: 2, Highest: Patrick

Apparently born with her hat on. An archetypal overbearing mother with a snide word for everyone, who nevertheless ultimately wants the best for her son.

Side note on the actress here, Elaine Stritch was an accomplished stage actress with numerous credits on Broadway and London's West End. She appeared on 30 Rock through its final season in in 2012, and passed away in 2014 at the age of 89.

Bulgakov said:
One of the only people capable of throwing off Jack Donaghy at will. Entitled, unflappable, and unappeasable.


Summon for hire
Gonna pop one more in here tonight because I'd like to finish the list this year and Holidays may make that challenging if I don't get through the early entries at a good clip...

Muriel Bagge

Age: Elderly
Source: Courage the Cowardly Dog
Created by: John R. Dilworth
Portrayed by: Thea White

Points: 43, Votes: 2, Highest: Lokii

A kind old Scottish woman, Muriel often plays the part of the long-suffering housewife and frequent kidnap-ee who's greatest joy is simply to sit in her rocking chair with her adopted pup, Courage. But she's also quite handy with a rolling pin (as both cooking implement and improvised weapon), and apparently an accomplished sitar player and pianist, in addition to showing surprising physical strength when pressed.

Lokii said:
The princess in distress archetype reimagined as cozy rural domesticity. And it works!


Summon for hire

Lucille Austero

Age: 70s?
Source: Arrested Development
Created by: Mitchell Hurwitz et al
Portrayed by: Liza Minnelli

Points: 44, Votes: 2, Highest: Johnny and Bulgakov

Also known as "Lucille Two" due to a certain other Lucille in the main cast, Lucille Austero is a friend, neighbor, and social rival to the Bluth family... particularly that other Lucille. She gets into romantic relationships with multiple members of the clan and also ends up controlling their family company, and does all this while suffering from chronic vertigo.

Bulgakov said:
Surprisingly honest and vulnerable, she trusts the bluths to a fault. A serious fault.