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Top 50 Older Women in Fiction - Grandmas Get Thing Done


Summon for hire

Rose Nylund

Age: 55-63
Source: The Golden Girls
Created by: Susan Harris
Portrayed by: Betty White

Points: 121, Votes: 5, Highest: Ixo

Who's the best Golden Girl? According to Talking Time, it's Rose. Raised in an orphanage in St. Olaf, Minnesota, she loves to tell stories of her childhood, often to the annoyance of her friends. Though she was adopted at age eight, she persisted for most of her life in believing that her biological father was secretly Bob Hope. She was married for many years and had at least five children before her husband died of a heart attack while they were making love, understandably giving her a bit of a complex. Though Rose is often naive and oblivious, she is perhaps the most kind-hearted of the group. She's also involved heavily in charity work, enjoys playing the piano, painting, and other artistic pursuits, and is an excellent baker and a friend to all animals.

Rose is of course portrayed by the First Lady of Television, Betty White, who holds the Guinness World Record for the longest career on TV of any person anywhere, and who sadly passed away on Dec 31 while this very list was in progress. As mentioned previously, Betty and Rue McClanahan swapped parts early in production of the show, partly because Blanche was similar in personality to Betty's earlier character Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Betty reportedly loved playing Rose, describing her as "so innocent, not the brightest nickel in the drawer, but funny."

JBear said:
"Back in St. Olaf, my mother always used to say that people who are constantly rude to you aren't actually your friends." Rose is the comic relief, eternally naïve, and the butt of everyone's jokes, but she never lets that get her down.

R.I.P. Betty White, 1922-2021

Johnny Unusual

Good and sadly timely choice. Never been more tempted to rewatch the Golden Girls.

Fun fact, the show was inspired by a Miami Vice parody called Miami Nice.
So sad, I haven't watched a lot of that show but everything I've seen I loved.

She was also one I guessed would be #1, curious who of my guesses will make it!


Summon for hire

Professor Minerva McGonagall

Age: 54-64 during the main series according to inference from a couple passages, orrrrrr maybe 100-110 with alternate interpretations given she shows up in Crimes of Grindelwald
Source: Harry Potter franchise
Created by: J.K. Rowling
Portrayed by: Dame Maggie Smith

Points: 123, Votes: 5, Highest: Mogri

Minerva McGonagall is known as one of the most respected and accomplished witches of the Wizarding World. Adept particularly at the complex art of Transfiguration, she taught that subject at Hogwarts for many years and was a registered cat animagus. She also served as Head of Gryffindor House, Deputiy Headmistress, and finally Headmistress of the entire school. One of Dumbledore's closest confidants, she took part in both Wizarding Wars and led the final resistance against Voldemort at the Battle of Hogwarts, after which she was awarded the Order of Merlin, First Class. She was so adept at spell-casting that she could cast certain spells without the use of a wand. Her students at Hogwarts fear her strict discipline, but also hold her in high regard, and she's known by those closest to her to show a softer side at times.

And not to steal thunder from the upcoming Actors list, but I believe Dame Maggie Smith is the first person to play two main live-action roles on this list, so let's talk about her for a second - acting since 1952, the currently 87-year-old actress has appeared in over 60 movies and 70 plays, and has won the "triple crown" of two Academy Awards, a Tony Award, and four Primetime Emmy Awards

Violentvixen said:
I still love the "I've always wanted to use that spell" when she awakes the statues right before the final battle. It's adorable.

Also shout-out to Mogri and Patrick for actually spelling her name right, unlike other voters and myself in the spreadsheet.


McGonagall is great. One of my favourite scenes is her, in the fifth book, when that horrible person is in charge of Hogwarts, and inspects her class. Trying to interrupt, like she does all the time, with McGonagall having no time for that bullshit.

In my mind, she always looked like the teacher that was in charge of my class (no idea, if you have anything like that in the US, basically, she also deals with administrative stuff, and deals with problems, stuff like that). Strict but fair, and very competent.

The moment that VV mentioned was also great. I like that she allowed herself to have some fun, even at such a moment.


A great character and Dame Smith does a great job with her. Unfortunately, She Who Shall Not be Named has ruined any enjoyment I used to derive from HP.


Summon for hire

Malory Archer

Age: 64
Source: Archer
Created by: Adam Reed
Portrayed by: Jessica Walter

Points: 127, Votes: 5, Highest: Violentvixen

An international spy with a career that included taking part in the coups in Iran and Guatemala, Mallory Archer is best known for being the head of ISIS, a spy agency for hire, at least during periods when it hasn't been blacklisted by the CIA. She treats both her employees and her son Sterling with harsh criticism and belligerence, though she does seem to at least care for the latter's well-being. She drinks like a fish but gets things done, though often for the most selfish reasons. She dated Burt Reynolds for a while.

Violentvixen said:
She's horrible but I love her

JBear said:
Not much of a mother to her terrible son, but an experienced covert operative and the skilled head of a spy agency.
Well, with these last few I officially have No Idea who the remaining ones and number 1 will be. And I'm glad, because it either means there's a character I forgot and need to be reminded of, or something new I may want to check out.

Johnny Unusual

Walter was amazing with this character type. And as awful as they could be, she could still bring the humanity to them when she needed to.

I really need to catch up on the... 3 seasons I've missed now? Wow.


I just looked over my list and I think I know 3 or 4 that will likely show up. I'm probably forgetting some obvious ones though. There have already been a ton that I wished I had thought of.


Summon for hire

Gran'ma Ben

Age: Grandma (over 60 for sure, possibly older)
Source: Bone
Created by: Jeff Smith

Points: 128, Votes: 4, Highest: Patrick

A simple farmer of The Valley (as far as you know), grandmother to Thorn, Gran'ma Ben occasionally displays shocking feats of physical strength and endurance, out-racing cows and confronting monsters twice her size. It's eventually revealed that her true name is Rose Harvester, and she was once queen of the fantasy kingdom of Atheia. She was known as a skilled military leader, but due to a family betrayal the kingdom fell during the Great War with the Rat Creatures, and her daughter and son-in-law were killed. In order to protect her granddaughter she went into exile, a plan that worked pretty well until and ancient evil catches up to them as such things so often do.

Dr. Nerd said:
An amiable lady with superhuman strength that regularly beats the crap out of rat monsters (also she's secretly former royalty, because this is an epic fantasy series).


Summon for hire
(Yeah, I'm spoilering a two decade old comic. It takes some turns, practically changing genres from what it looks like at first, and is a great read, so I decided to play it safe.)
Despite having read all of Bone years later, I still primarily think of it in terms of that Disney Afternoon magazine preview which as you noted is quite different in tone from where the series ended up going. That's my (poor) excuse for forgetting her. I'm not quite sure where she would have placed on my list if I had remembered her, definitely going to give this a re-read.

Also I just realized dressing up as Mallory Archer for Halloween would be A LOT of fun and I'm hoping I remember to do it this year.


I have one character on my list, who hasn't shown up yet. No way is she not in here. I expected her to get first place, when I finally remembered her, and I still wouldn't be surprised.

I've read Bone a few years ago. I liked it, but the tonal change was so drastic, that it felt like the Bone creatures had no place being there anymore, at the end. Yeah, spoiler for a very vague thought, why not.


I wondered if McGonagall might take a hit in the rankings simply because her creator is such a piece of shit. I had her on my list, and there's one more on there that I am 100% certain will show up on this one.

Oh dang I didn't even think of her. Fail. Endless fail.

Johnny Unusual

I wondered if McGonagall might take a hit in the rankings simply because her creator is such a piece of shit.
I don't think I would have voted for her as a guy who like the movies well enough but let's say if we do a vampire list, a certain creator's shittiness will definitely affect my decisions of how my list would shake out.
I would have voted for Minerva pretty high, despite JKR's weird and disturbing heel-turn as-of-late. Totally get her transphobia being a deal breaker with anyone, but it's something I can mostly compartmentalize - at least with the original 7 books/8 movies. Everyone has to make their own decisions about these things.

Mallory Archer is fantastic, but I prolly would have put her a fair bit lower on my list. Which is not a slight against Archer, but mostly in my head when I'm watching that show, all I hear is a more crass Lucille Bluth. Which is still really fun! But I'd put the character I spoiler tagged well above her with personal regards to my fondness for each of them.


Summon for hire
Speaking of which...

Lucille Bluth

Age: 63-77?
Source: Arrested Development
Created by: Mitchell Hurwitz
Portrayed by: Jessica Walter

Points: 129, Votes: 4, Highest: Dr. Nerd

Didn't we just have this character two entries ago? Oh wait, that was a cartoon. Well, just repeat all that minus the international super-spy bits, more or less. Also Lucille probably never dated Burt Reynolds, though she did have an affair with her husband's identical twin.

Jessica Walter is another amazing actress we sadly lost last year, in March at the age of 80. Starting her career with an award for outstanding debut performance on Broadway in 1963, she acted in numerous TV shows from the 60s-80s and broke into film with a Clint Eastwood thriller in 1971. Her Lucille archetype is a more recent thing, and she says her daughter will back her up that she's really nothing like the characters - "really a very nice, boring person".

Dr. Nerd said:
Feels like this one needs no explanation, she's hilarious.

JBear said:
Selfish, greedy, immoral, callous, scheming, manipulative, and always has a glass of wine in her hand. I can think of no better matriarch for the Bluth family.

Bulgakov said:
A sharp satire of the out-of-touch wealthy, but believable enough that you're willing to go along with her self-serving nature.