Pixar’s 15 Best Female Characters

Ellie (Up)

5. Ellie Fredricksen (Up)

It’s love at first sight for Carl when he first meets Ellie, and it’s love at first sight for us, too. She’s all messy hair and boundless enthusiasm, and her creativity proves infectious when she sweeps young Carl away on a pretend adventure. Ellie retains that same lust for life as she grows old with Carl, and even after her death her intrepid spirit informs the movie. “Adventure is out there!” is her constant refrain, and Carl and Russell take those words to heart as they set out on their South American journey.

Jessie (Toy Story)

4. Jessie (Toy Story 2 & Toy Story 3)

Lively, charming Jessie is the perfect cowgirl companion, whether you’re a little girl or a sentient toy. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind or go after what she wants (including a certain dashing spaceman). But there’s more to her than frontier pluck. Beneath her sunny demeanor is a traumatic past, and to Pixar’s credit they don’t shy away from her lingering emotional scars. Jessie’s more than badass — she’s complicated.

Sadness (Inside Out)

3. Sadness (Inside Out)

Sadness initially comes across as a wet blanket, especially when compared to the effervescent Joy. As the film goes on, however, it becomes apparent that her true gift is empathy. It’s Sadness who’s able to comfort Bing Bong, and Sadness who allows Riley to connect with others. Sadness isn’t what we typically think of as a positive emotion, but by the end of Inside Out she’s made her peace with herself — and shown us how we can come to peace with our own versions of Sadness as well.

Dory (Finding Nemo)

2. Dory (Finding Nemo)

It’s a tad ironic that one of Pixar’s most memorable characters is also its most forgetful. Dory might have Memento-level memory problems, but she never seems to lose her friendliness, her optimism, her loyalty, or her ability to speak whale. Sure, she’s a bit oblivious, but she’s got the heart of a hero. Her life philosophy hits that Pixar sweet spot between inspirational and realistic: “When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…”

Elastigirl (The Incredibles)

1. Helen Parr / Elastigirl (The Incredibles)

By all appearances, Helen Parr is your typical suburban housewife. But we, of course, know better. While it takes some convincing to get Helen back to her superheroine roots, Elastigirl turns out to be as awesome as she ever was: fierce, fearless, and even kind of sexy. (Her flirting game is next level.) Bob may be the breadwinner, but Helen a.k.a. Elastigirl holds the family together. Sometimes literally, as when she turns herself into a parachute to save her kids.

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