The New Heroines

A dialogue about teen and YA heroines in pop culture.


Clarke Griffin

Clarke Griffin The 100: Feminist Heroines Move to TV

While the concept and implementation of female young adult heroines is somewhat new in popular culture, the concept of these female heroines in the television world is even newer. Numerous YA heroines have popped up in move form in recent years, Katniss Everdeen, Tris Prior, you get the picture. However YA heroines have been slower to move to the television scene. Only very recently have these heroines moved over to this form of narrative. The movement towards having YA heroines on a recurring television series is a very important one. It provides an opportunity for YA heroines to become a role model for the feminist ideology in a way that returns once a week. One great example of a YA heroine who battles with feminism is Clarke Griffin from the TV show The 100.

The TV show The 100 is based around the post apocalyptic world in which the believed remnants of the human race live aboard a space station. The station is dying and as such 100 prisoners are sent to the ground to see if it is inhabitable. The 100 encounter “grounders”, people who survived on the ground, and have to learn to survive with them, sometime peacefully, sometimes through hostility.

Check out my earlier post about Clarke to get a more in depth background into the show.

One of those 100 prisoners is Clarke Griffin.Clarke is a strong female character that leads the members of the 100 in the show. Clarke was raised on the Ark and her mother was a member of the council, the decision makers for the Ark. She never had to struggle to get the things she needed she was not outcast in any way while aboard the Ark. Clarke was placed in prison due to her want to help the people of the Ark and alert them to the impending death of the Ark itself.

When the 100 first reach the ground Clarke attempts to help lead them and prevent them from making poor decisions. A majority of the 100 on the ground referred to her as “princess” due to her upbringing and the stigma she had recovered. Even the show advertises her as a “princess”.


However Clarke is not your average princess, she is much stronger, more passionate, and a better leader. Clarke is represented as a strong leader while still being able to care for those in need or those who are younger. In this way she is the perfect feminist role model. In one of the first episodes of the first season Clarke is walking through the camp when she hears a young girl scream for help. This girl is named Charlotte, she was having a nightmare thinking back to when her parents were floated on the Ark for a crime they had committed. Clarke goes over and comforts Charlotte by talking about her experience with her father being floated. She tells her that everyone has a second chance because she they are on the ground. Converted_file_796a9922

Later in the show Charlotte ends up killing Clarke’s best friend, Wells. Charlotte kills him because of something that another member of the 100 told her. Instead of banishing her and letting her die, Clarke chooses to overcome her rage and help Charlotte because she is just a child. Clarke is a strong caring heroine who does not allow her baser emotions overrule her kindness and thinking.

Another example of Clarke begin a strong female heroine is when she chooses to fight against the grounders. Clarke is not only a caring person but a heroine who is willing to fight in order to protect herself and the other members of the 100. In later episodes of the show she is seen fighting both with and against the grounders. She is willing to do what is necessary to survive.

Clarke not only fights the enemies she faces but she also is willing to help them. In one episode she is captured by the grounders and tasked with saving a child who was injured during an attack. She attempts to save her life, but in the end is unable to.

Clarke Griffin is the ideal feminist role model as she is caring, strong, and willing to do what is necessary to help those around her. In the show she is shown as a pretty person however she is not overly sexualized. She is shown for her character and heroism rather than solely for her looks.


Clarke Griffin: Your Favorite Feminist Heroine

Clarke Griffin is one of the main characters on the CW’s the 100. She lives privileged life on the Ark, a space station created after a nuclear war made Earth uninhabitable, until she breaks the law and is sent to lockup. Her journey begins when it’s discovered that the Ark is running out of air. Clarke is among the 100 delinquents sent to Earth to find out if it is inhabitable once again and safe for other Ark people to follow. But when they arrive, radiation poisoning becomes the least of their problems.



From the start, Clarke has been shown to be brave and selfless. She is a focused and capable heroine who puts the needs of her loved ones before herself. She is a feminist hero because she proves herself as a leader and can stand on equal ground with any man. Clarke has shown us countless times that she doesn’t need anyone to rescue her or save her. The only thing her character needs is for her people to be safe and for the cycle of endless bloodshed to end.

One scene in particular that showcases Clarke’s feminist, one-track mind is in the very first episode. After their ship arrives on Earth, Clarke soon discovers that their group won’t survive the night without supplies. She immediately sets to task finding a map and devising a path to get the precious resources they desperately need. Then, a group is formed to go out into uncharted territory. Clarke leads them, map in hand, when the only other girl of their team starts of their journey by saying, “Before you get any ideas… Finn’s mine.” Clarke’s snarky response is listed below.

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Clarke places her focus on protecting the 100 and making sure everyone can survive the night over competing for a boy’s attention. This strength of character only grows as the story continues.

The second piece I chose to show Clarke as a strong, feminist character happens to be another scene relating to the character Finn. It occurs in the second season, after Finn’s character goes through a major ordeal, and ends up slaughtering an enemy village of unarmed men, women, and children.

In this world, “blood will have blood” and in order for there to be “peace” between Clarke’s people and their enemy, Finn will have to offer his life in the place of those he took. The punishment set for Finn’s death would have been brutal and at this point Clarke has exhausted all possibilities of saving Finn. She has bargained and begged, but nothing will save him from this outcome. In the end, Clarke chooses to kill one of the only people she truly, deeply loves in order to repay a debt that will provide a chance for a truce. She does this through a mercy kill, a stab to the heart before their enemy can inflict any more suffering and torture.

This brave act demonstrates Clarke’s core character. She is a leader – mature, wise, and full of strength. Clarke carries her people’s burdens so they don’t have to. Every move she makes, every act she commits is done in their name for their protection.

This level of self-sacrifice and devotion is unrivaled to any other character on the show – man or woman. Clarke’s only true fault is her overwhelming and utterly consuming desire to protect her people, to save everyone from war, suffering, and death, with her own happiness at expense.

This demonstration of feminism on the 100 is part of what makes this show a success as a whole. Having Clarke’s character be a such a central piece of the story allows for more representation, a chance to show that there is a variety of strengths a character can possess, not just one.


Clarke Griffin is a feminist heroine. She saves the boy. She saves her people. She saves herself. Clarke stands out in this narrative because of her own inner strength and the power she projects. I for one, would like to see more characters like Clarke Griffin represented in media. She is a heroine I hold near and dear to my heart because she is so well developed and human. She is not just a dystopian battle ready leader – she is a teenage girl who just wants to live a life in peace.





Clarke Griffin The 100: How Class Struggle Sticks Around

The TV show The 100 originally aired in March of 2014. The series is set in a post apocalyptic world where the earths population was erased through nuclear war. The only believed remnants of society are aboard the Ark, a space station floating above earth. The show starts out on the Ark where we learn that the life support systems are failing and the Ark only has months before it is no longer inhabitable. On this station all crimes are punishable by floating, or death. This is unless the perpetrator is under the age of 18, then they are sentenced to imprisonment until they reach the age at which they can be floated.


In the first episode we learn that the main character Clarke Griffin is imprisoned in solitary confinement. She was placed their because of fear that she would tell the members of the Ark that it was in fact dying. With the life support systems failing, the council members decide to send all 100 juvenile prisoners to the ground in order to not only extend the life support system but also to determine if the ground is in fact inhabitable. This sets up the show for the young adults to run things and figure out how to live on the ground rather than on the Ark.

The show follows the 100, or whats left of them as the show goes on, through their adventures and experiences on the ground. Eventually the 100 learn that they are not alone on the ground and in fact remnants of the human race are alive on the ground. They call them grounders and have many encounters with them both good and very bad. Through the show Clarke Griffin develops into a fascinating example of a young adult heroine.

Throughout the show we learn about life on the Ark and how their existed a clear division between people through class. Members of the council are generally placed above the members of the working class, the ones who keep the Ark running. Members of the council, as well as their family, had better living accommodations and overall better quality of living. Once the 100 reached the ground the teens past came back to fruition when deciding who will lead the group.

During the first season the two main characters fighting for the leadership of the 100 are Clarke Griffin and Bellamy Blake. Clarke’s mother was a member of the council and as such she had different accommodations. Bellamy on the other hand came from the working class of the Ark and wanted to lead the 100 on the ground.

Karl Marx developed a school of thought developed around the idea of a classless society in which everyone worked for the greater good and no one person was above another. Marxism examines the way through which society operates and for a believer of Marxism every thing that happens in a society is based around the economy. This concept revolves around the idea of Nobility v. Bourgeois v. Proletariat. These represent the Upper Class v. Middle Class v. Working Class. This translates very closely to the way things operated on the Ark in the show. The Ark had two main classes the council or Nobility and the working class or Proletariat. This caused a bit of resentment between members of the different classes and caused strife for the citizens of the Ark.

Once on the ground one would think that the class struggle between the working class or the members of the council would disappear. However, as a majority of the members of the 100 originated from the working class they did not want to follow Clarke because they viewed her as not worthy of their support. During the first few episodes of the first season Clarke attempts to convince the members of the 100 that they need to be rational and make decisions that will keep them alive. However they choose to follow Bellamy who just wants everyone to be free to do as they wish.

Throughout the first season the Clarke eventually works her way into the leadership position by showing the 100 that class struggle no longer needs to exists. On the ground class no longer matters, what matters is survival and working together to deal with the grounders. Clarke eventually works with Bellamy to keep order and get everyone to work towards a single goal of survival and creating a life on the ground.

In a way the first part of the show transforms a society with major class division into a form of communism, although not a complete version. Because the 100 are still lead by leaders they are not a true communistic community however they eventually learn to look past their old class placement and learn to work together towards the common good of their community as a whole. Although class is removed from their society on the ground they are still impacted by the need for survival and to obtain the materials needed for such.

Clarke Griffin

Clarke Griffin is one of the main characters on the 100, a television series set in the future surrounding the journey of 100 criminally convicted juveniles who are sent down to Earth in an attempt to see if it is habitable. She is a teenage criminal and an artist, but most importantly she is a self-sacrificing leader. In the lens of Narratology – a type of literary criticism that analyzes the structure and function of a narrative by its themes, conventions, or symbols – we can clearly see that Clarke is a rare culmination of all of the seven character types. In Barry’s Beginning Theory, we see these roles explained.

1. The Villain: A character that creates struggles for the hero.


At the end of the second season, Clarke makes the decision to save her people by eliminating the enemy completely – innocent civilians and children included. The guilt almost destroys her. By doing this she becomes a monster, feeding into an ideology that she hates – “blood must have blood.” She desires to live in a world free of war and suffering, and yet she murders hundreds to accomplish her desires. Clarke hates what she did and despises herself for it. She has become all that she abhors. Clarke is her own enemy.

2. The Donor: A character that prepares the hero, or gives them something special, such as a weapon or wisdom.

Clarke fills the role of donor in the 100 in how she provides the other heroic characters of the show with her assistance. She rescues her friend Jasper after he’s been impaled, she provides Bellamy with a shoulder to lean on through sharing the responsibilities of leading the 100, and she is originally the person who motivates the group of delinquents to get the supplies they need in order to survive when they first arrive on Earth.

3. The Helper: a wise, old character who appears at critical moments to provide support.

Clarke is the epitome of a good helper and healer. She is there to heal the wounds of the other characters, both physical and mental. When we are first introduced to her character in the second season, we see her help a young girl struggle with nightmares, we see her guide a group of characters across dangerous, uncharted territory, and we see her reassure Bellamy, her co-leader of the 100, and help him see that he is not a monster, and that people need him to lead. Knowing that the only way to truly reassure him is by admitting how much of an impact he has on their group, she follows her previous lines with the admission that she needs him too.



Clarke is a great communicator, healer, and friend. Her habit for self-sacrifice has allowed her to become a great leader – which also involves a great deal of helping her people in any way she can.

4. The Princess: The object which is deliberately sought after by the hero.


Clarke is a character that is more interested in surviving than finding true love, or serving as a prize for any other character to claim after a victory. But in the first episode she is nicknamed “Princess” by Bellamy partly due to her elite birth status as the daughter of a doctor and an engineer, and partly because she so easily falls into a leadership role. Later on, Clarke does end up playing into a couple romantic relationships where she is sought after by “heroic” characters, so in the sense that her significant others sought her out throughout the series, she can been considered desired – a princess.

5. The Dispatcher: A character who illustrates the need for the hero’s quest.

After arriving on Earth, Clarke is the only one of the 100 who immediately grasps the seriousness of their situation. Her first move is to take out a map and locate their current position, coming up with a realistic plan for survival. She forms a group to explore their surroundings and explain what they need to do in order to make it through the night. Clarke is highly practical and realistic, she gets the other characters moving toward becoming more sustainable and independent.

6. The Hero: A character who thwarts the villain and fights against evil.


Clarke is the character everyone roots for. She is incredibly dynamic and fights for all that is good. Everything she does is for her people. On the show, we often see her struggle to make decisions, and it is incredibly compelling to see someone so young hold the weight of so many.

“I’m trying…I’m trying all the time. But everyone is counting on me, and it’s so hard.”

7. The False Hero: A variant on the villain who appears heroic, but is less morally inclined.


As mentioned before in the villain role, Clarke has done some incredibly dark things. She has killed in cold blood, murdered innocent civilians and children. At times, we see her spiral into a dark place where she decides that “love is weakness” and allows for unspeakable atrocities to occur. Other characters call her out on it, but Clarke knows that she will take on whatever is necessary to protect her people. She often claims that she never had a choice – she is merely doing the best she can.

In the end, Clarke is an incredibly complex character that offers a lot on the levels of heroic character development and models for young females. She is incredibly strong, but not without weakness. She is a hero, but also everything she despises. Clarke is an enigma, but also one of the most compelling heroines on the 100. 

Caroline Noll

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