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Top 50 Older Women in Fiction - Grandmas Get Thing Done

Issun

Avarice
Well balls. I just reached a certain point in Death's Door and found another worthy candidate for this list. Whaddya gonna do?
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)


#34
The Wicked Witch of the West

Age: Unknown in the original source, up to hundreds of years in some adaptations
Source: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Created by: L. Frank Baum
Portrayed by: Margaret Hamilton, Mabel King, Idina Menzel, Mila Kunis, Mary J Blige, Miss Piggy, and many others

Points: 56, Votes: 2, Highest: Dr. Nerd

Ah, the classics. Not every older woman character should be an evil hag, but some can be, and the WWW is perhaps the most universally recognized character in that archetype. With pointy black hat and broom in hand, she cackles and intimidates, keeping an iron grip on her domain and assaulting any who dare challenge her rule. In numerous adapted works, she's been given more extensive backstory and complicated motives, often originating as a good or ambiguous character who came to be seen as wicked due to tragic circumstances.

Dr. Nerd said:
It's unfortunate that so many women over 60 in media are typecast as the stereotypical witch or crone. With that said, I really love watching Margaret Hamilton chew scenery in the original Oz movie.

Interestingly, the iconic look with green skin and black pointy hat was almost entirely invented by the 1939 movie. In the original book, she's described as having one eye (which can see everything in her kingdom), wearing a jeweled hat (but also a yellow magic pointy one that lets her control the flying monkeys), and wielding an umbrella rather than a broom.

 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)


#32
Landlady of Pig Sty Alley

Age: 60-ish?
Source: Kung Fu Hustle
Created by: Stephen Chow
Portrayed by: Qiu Yuen

Points: 59, Votes: 2, Highest: Johnny Unusual

Normally when a poor village is beset by evil gangsters and needs to be defended, you do it with a rag-tag group of young heroes perhaps aided by an old master. But in this story, power resides in surprising places, including the slum's grumpy, no-nonsense landlady, who turns out to be a master of the Lama Pai Lion's Roar technique.

Fun fact: apparently Qiu Yuen, a veteran of Beijinmg Opera and an one of the earliest stunt-women in hong kong cinema (who also once rescue Roger Moore's James Bond in The Man With The Golden Gun) just happened to be on set accompanying a younger woman who was auditioning for a different role. Standing to the side smoking a cigarette with a sarcastic expression, she caught the eye of Stephen Chow, who persuaded her to join the cast.
 
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Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
I had never considered her. I had always thought of her as more late middle-aged than anything else.

Though she was given no name, the Beast called her "Helen of Troy". In the original, she is Xiaolongnü or Little Dragon Girl; in the English dub, The Dragon's Daughter. She and her husband together were called the "Two Fated Lovers", citing a homage to "Return of the Condor Heroes" by the famous Wuxia novelist Jin Yong.

Wow. Qiu Yuen has led quite a life.
She is an expert of both Chinese martial arts and Beijing-opera skills, and was apprenticed at the Peking Opera School under the same master, Yu Jim-yuen, as Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung.

 
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I didn't get my list in time, but Granny Goodness is the first one from it that would have made the cut. What a legend. Somewhere out there in the multiverse, there's a world where the DC cinematic universe is going strong and there's a whole Granny Goodness movie.

Kung Fu Hustle's landlady is goated, but she always looked middle aged to me versus over the hill on account of the actress portraying her, so I didn't even consider her for this.
 

Paul le Fou

24/7 lofi hip hop man to study/relax to
(He)
Hmm... Looks like the actress was 53-54 when she filmed the role (Born in 1950, movie is 2004). She also seems to be playing up in age, maybe? The character also has a grown adult son. And she certainly has extremely powerful Old Lady Energy regardless of her age.

I declare her an excellent choice worthy of recognition. Honestly, I'm surprised she came in this low.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
On a second look, I think the age I had written in for her is unsupported, so I revised it down a bit. I do think she's supposed to be 60-ish from what I'd read. In any event, she is undoubtedly awesome.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)


#29 (tie)
Unei

Age: Elderly
Source: Final Fantasy III
Created by: Square Co: Hironobu Sakaguchi, Yoshitaka Amano, Kenji Terada, et al

Points: 60, Votes: 2, Highest: Mogri

Unei (also sometimes Unne) is a magician and seer who can traverse the world of dreams, and observe the waking world from it. After being trapped in sleep for a thousand years, she briefly joins a party of young heroes, helping them acquire and airship and giving advice on how to combat the wizard Xande who flooded the world in darkness.

She also has a cute pet parrot.

 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
I doubt it's intended but I've always enjoyed the etymological serendipity with Unei, as "uni" is "dream" or "sleep" in Finnish.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
This is another one who's skirting the lower end of our age range (I probably would've voted for her myself if she were a little older), but she's still awesome and older than most women you see on an action TV show...



#29 (tie)
Laura Roslin

Age: Unspecified, actress was 52-57
Source: Battlestar Galactica (2004)
Created by: Ronald D. Moore
Portrayed by: Mary McDonnell

Points: 60, Votes: 2, Highest: Mogri

JBear already wrote up the background I would have, so I'll just turn it over...

JBear said:
The president of what remains of human civilization as it flees the Cylon menace. The Secretary of Education, she is thrust into the role of President by succession when the majority of government is killed in the opening Cylon attack, but nonetheless thrives in it, making difficult decisions that will ultimately determine the future of humanity.

... and going much further than that risks getting into spoiler territory for a series where people really care about the spoilers (even if it is well over a decade old now) so maybe we'll just leave it there.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
I'm once again pushing to get through some entries, as I'm out of town for work all next week and I'm not sure how many I'll be able to sneak in, though I'll try to do a few at least. So here's the last of our three-way tie at 29:



#29 (tie)
Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan

Age: 33-76
Source: The Vorkosigan Saga
Created by: Lois McMaster Bujold

Points: 60, Votes: 2, Highest: Lokii

While Miles Vorkosigan may be the nominal protagonist of the Vorkosigan saga, his mother Cordelia is central to both his story and that of the entire society around him. Marrying into a militaristic culture at war with her own, it's no exaggeration to say that she ends up heavily influencing the future direction of an entire empire.

Lokii said:
She never loses her edge no matter her age. The moral center of the series and softening aspect to the militaristic Vorkosigan society. Miles wouldn't be Miles without her.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)


#28
Granny

Age: grandmother
Source: Looney Tunes
Created by: Friz Freleng (final), Tex Avery (prototype)
Portrayed by: June Foray (Torz's pick), Bea Benaderet, Mel Blanc, Candi Milo, others

Points: 62, Votes: 3, Highest: Dr. Nerd

Did you know Granny has an actual name? It's Emma Webster, apparently. Granny is a generally kind widow who is extremely protective of her beloved pet canary, Tweety, whom she will defend by any and all means. She initially had exaggerated old-fashioned tastes (even for the 1950s) but has since been updated at several points. She was once courted by Yosemite Sam for her money, but he was foiled by Bugs posing as another suitor. More recently she's appeared as a teacher, a professor, an investigator, a TVA enforcer timekeeper, and even a cheerleader in the original Space Jam and a player in the new one.

Dr. Nerd said:
A seemingly nice lady that beats the shit out of her cat for trying to eat her canary. She got to solve mysteries in a spin-off cartoon with said cat and canary in the 90s.
 
Had her on my long list but didn't make my final 25. It sounds like if I'd seen some of the newer Looney Tunes stuff I'd have more of an idea of her, and I was very unaware of the mystery spin off!
 
Never liked Granny. Her entire schtick is that she goes beast mode to protect Tweety. But idgaf about Tweety. Meanwhile she would beat the ever loving hell out of Sylvester for just being a normal cat. It’s messed up! Granny is a very bad pet owner.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)


#27
Blanche Elizabeth Marie Devereaux

Age: 53-61-ish
Source: The Golden Girls
Created by: Susan Harris
Portrayed by: Rue McClanahan

Points: 63, Votes: 2, Highest: Ixo

Blanche is of course one of the Golden Girls, a rare instance of mature women getting top billing in a major TV show. Her character was inspired by Blanche DuBois and Scarlett O'Hara - as a woman in the old Southern Belle mode she has a lot of growth to do fitting in to modern society, but she generally gets there in small steps. She's also often portrayed as promiscuous for laughs and dates a series of terrible men, but was evidently faithful to her husband for decades before he died in unclear circumstances. She's the youngest of the four Golden roommates by several years, and also their landlord.

Trivia of the day: apparently McClanahan and Betty White switched roles during pre-production for the show, because neither of them wanted to be typecast.
 
Never liked Granny. Her entire schtick is that she goes beast mode to protect Tweety. But idgaf about Tweety. Meanwhile she would beat the ever loving hell out of Sylvester for just being a normal cat. It’s messed up! Granny is a very bad pet owner.
Wait, is Sylvester her cat? I totally thought he was a stray or someone else's cat who snuck in. If he's her pet you're right that's just weird.

As for the Golden Girls I've never seen an episode but knew they'd be on here and hear nothing but good things about the show.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Wait, is Sylvester her cat? I totally thought he was a stray or someone else's cat who snuck in. If he's her pet you're right that's just weird.

As for the Golden Girls I've never seen an episode but knew they'd be on here and hear nothing but good things about the show.
It varies from short to short.
 

Bulgakov

Yes, that Russian author.
(He/Him)
Granny is a stock comic character. I don't think she's intended to be either a role model or a nuanced study of animal abuse. I think she's supposed to be a lady who goes from sweetly innocent to an unexpectedly violent punisher of moralitly lapses to get a laugh, and I think she generally succeeds at that.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
The Golden Girls were half my list. Blanche ist my least favourite, but really, I love them all. It's a clever, funny show, that deals with topics that are still rarely seen on TV. I encourage everyone who hasn't seen it, to give it a try (caveat: 90s sitcom, with all that implies.

I generelly agree with WH about Granny, but I enjoy her, when she doesn't abuse Silvester. I think I liked her in Silvester and Tweety Mysteries, that mentioned mystery show. But yeah, cats are too often the antagonists in old cartoons, just for being cats. But that's probably a topic for another thread.
 

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
I can sing the Golden Girls theme song from memory, and while that might not sound that impressive, anyone who knows how bad my memory is will assure you otherwise.

It's a fun show, and holds up reasonably well, all things considered.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Had her on my long list but didn't make my final 25. It sounds like if I'd seen some of the newer Looney Tunes stuff I'd have more of an idea of her, and I was very unaware of the mystery spin off!
The spin-off came sort of at the end of the hey-dey of WB splat and squish cartoons in the 90s (Animaniacs, Freakazoid!, etc). It wasn't particularly good to my recollection but it had pretty decent animation and as all the cartoons did from these producers, a good theme song.


If I recall correctly, the formula was Sylvester tried to get Tweety while Granny investigated Miss Marple-style while they travel the globe on some never-ending vacation. The pets may inadvertently uncover clues during their antics and Granny would put it all together in the final act.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)


#26
Yzma

Age: possibly 140? (voice actress 73)
Source: The Emperor's New Groove
Created by: Mark Dindal, Roger Allers, Chris Williams, David Reynolds
Portrayed by: Eartha Kitt (later Grey DeLisle and Candi Milo)

Points: 65, Votes: 2, Highest: ViolentVixen

Yzma was an advisor to young Emperor Kuzco of the Incas and would-be usurper of the throne. She claims to be a powerful sorceress but functions more like a mad scientist, mastering alchemy and using various potions to propel her schemes. She's conniving and cruel, but also intelligent and eccentric. And to be fair, the emperor she's trying to depose is (at the time) a total spoiled brat. Also she favors purple, the best color.

ViolentVixen said:
It is absolutely criminal that her song was removed from the movie (yes I know it was written before the plot changed but I don't care):

 
Yzma was my number 1. I cannot think of another character that is anything like her. She's smart, power-hungry, enraged because she has to be subservient to a spoiled boy, clearly likes younger men although Disney of course couldn't make that too clear, as noted Eartha Kitt is amazing and she has two lines that I quote entirely too often and have to call out:



Here's some more test footage of her song, which from the looks of it could have been my top Disney villain song if it had made it in. The music starts about 40 seconds in:


Oh and my husband and I went as Yzma and Kronk for Halloween one year (it is still the only couples costume we've ever done).

And this became my default email header at my old workplace when someone fucked up a microscope:

 
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