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Lara Croft Action Girl

The phrase "Fight like a girl" is flawed beyond repair.

"Stay, stay thy hands! Thou art an Amazon and fightest with the sword of Deborah."

The Action Girl is a female Badass who can go toe to toe with her male counterparts without breaking a sweat. Distressed Damsel? Not for this babe. She doesn't sit around waiting to be rescued. She's headbutting her jailer and breaking herself out. She proves, with her very being, that girls aren't only not helpless, they kick ass. But not just "any girl with a fight scene" can be considered an Action Girl. An Action Girl is accompanied by Rule of Cool, and routinely and reliably gets in on the combat. And what's more, she wins.

Because of Double Standards, true Action Girls are less common than male Badasses. If you want to get more into the why of that, check out the Gender Dynamics Index or our very own Action Girl Analysis page. The short version however, is the concept that Men Are Strong, Women Are Pretty and females should Stay in the Kitchen. For a very long time, females who did much but wait around for their hero to come rescue them were unusual and rare. Even now, women aren't automatically assumed to be able to fight and protect themselves the way men are. Society has progressed since then and Action Girls are popular and more common than ever, but girls still haven't completely caught up with boys when it comes to expectations in media, hence the continued existence of this trope.

That being said, one must watch out for the dreaded Faux Action Girl. With the popularity of the Action Girl increasing, creators are trying to slip them in for more appeal and political-correctness, without actually giving them a chance to show themselves off. The "Action" part of the character is left as an Informed Attribute, with characters constantly playing up how much of a badass she is, and yet when it comes to facing the music, she proves otherwise by being a Damsel in Distress or suffering the effects of being on the wrong end of a Curb Stomp Battle, assuming she gets any action at all. Basically she can talk the talk, but she can't walk the walk.

Sometimes an Action Girl can start off well, but derail into a Faux Action Girl over time, with no adequate justification for it. This is known as Chickification.

Compare the Action Girl with her Evil Counterpart, the often far-more-aggressive Dark Action Girl, and the more mundane versions You Go, Girl! and Plucky Girl. Not to be confused with Affirmative Action Girl, who is just a girl added to the cast in an adaptation or new season to balance out the gender ratio, no matter what role she actually plays (though, often, the girl is an Action Girl herself). See Real Women Never Wear Dresses for when people think that every female character has to be an Action Girl to deserve something similar to basic respect.

Not to be confused with Action Girl, a comic series about an action girl.

Subtropes of Action Girl:

By age:

By preferred weapon or method of fighting:

By Teammates:

By preferred weapon and teammates:

  • Guys Smash Girls Shoot: A female who uses a ranged weapon, paired with a male who is a melee fighter.
  • Sword and Sorcerer: Similar principle, but replace "ranged weapon" with either "sword" (if she uses weapons) or "magic" (if she's the magic user instead). Her partner uses the other one.

By job:

Closely related tropes, and tropes which often overlap with Action Girl:

Please list examples in the appropriate subtrope pages. Examples of Action Girls who don't fit into any subpages may be listed here:

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