Earlier this month, to celebrate International Women’s Day and the importance of female friendships, we asked you to share your favorite fictional girl squads! We got a multitude of responses, many of which pointed out an interesting trend—the majority of inspirational girl squads seem to be found in comics and television. Hmm. To close out Women’s History Month, we’ve rounded up a few of your picks and added a couple of our own, and now we’re ready for group cosplay!
The Lancre Coven
(The Discworld Books by Terry Pratchett)
Technically an “argument” of witches depending whether four of them are currently in the group, the Lancre Coven consists of Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Magrat Garlick, and Agnes Nitt. Unfortunately, when all four are together, this means they fall into the archetypes of Maiden, Mother, Crone, and… the Other One. The brand of magic utilized by witches in Pratchett’s Discworld series is nothing so flashy as what wizards do, seeing as they rarely use magic at all—they simply use common sense and headology, a type of psychology that grants them a great deal of power indeed. As squads go, you’d be hard-pressed to find a group that could get the job done better, whatever that job may be.
Thordur, AeronaGreenjoy, semibee, and Joy V. Smith all listed Pratchett’s witches among their favorites, with semibee pointing out that “Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg will forever be my lady lamps on how to be strong and get things/people done.”
The Lumberjane Scouts of Roanoke Cabin
(Lumberjanes by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen and Noelle Stevenson)
It’s hardly surprising that the Lumberjane scouts got a shout out from commenter mmaries, being a resourceful, supportive, and clever group of friends who have a mystery to solve at Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. They are the ideal group to win merit badges with! And they saw an old woman turn into a bear, folks. There is no telling what these girls might get up to in the future.
The friendships between the Lumberjanes gang is a huge part of the series’ appeal, as are the differences between them that only serve to make them an ideal mystery-solving crew. Jo, their most by-the-book scout in the cabin, is also a transgender girl—and she’s the only one in any of the squads listed. Lumberjanes is where it’s at.
Betsy, Tacy, and Tib
(The Betsy-Tacy Series by Maud Hart Lovelace)
Set at the tail end of the 19th Century, Lovelace’s girl squad were partly based on her own adventures and friendships as a child. Though the stories take place the fiction location of Deep Valley in Minnesota, it was based on the town of Mankato, where Lovelace grew up. Commenters ms_katonic and drcox both threw their hats in the ring for these buddies, with drcox saying “They meet in early childhood, are friends all their lives, and see each other through good times and difficult times. The author based these characters on herself and her two best friends, and in adulthood they did get that trip to Spain they’d talked about as children.”
Awesome friends who grow up side by side, and get to do all the things that they dreamed they’d do together? Yes, please.
The Crystal Gems
The Crystal Gems have it all: super combat skills, the ability to fuse into giant women(!!), and literally being from another planet. (That tried to take over our world once, shh, don’t tell.) Steven is around as the one fella in the crew, but he’s also a gem-in-training, as it were. And their numbers keep growing! It started out with Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl, but now we have Lapis and Peridot too! And to top it off, since the gems herald from a species that is all female, they’re basically all queer (a simplification, but basically true for all intents and purposes).
What’s most enjoyable about watching the Crystal Gems is how rich and complex their relationships are. They have fought side by side, betrayed one another, been hurt by each other, adored one another. After centuries spent together, they still teach each other every day. As Garnet would say, they are made of love. And it’s stronger than hate, than anger, than bigotry, and anything else you could throw at it.
The Birds of Prey
Of all the DC super teams, many fans have squishy soft spot for the Birds of Prey. Started in 1996, once Barbara Gordon had adopted the moniker of Oracle, the Birds of Prey was just Barbara and Black Canary, but the duo quickly expanded to include many of DC’s female heroes (and some of the villains too). With friends like Huntress, Catwoman, Big Barda, Hawkgirl, and Vixen, who needs… well, they need enemies, or the comic would be a little slow-going, but you get the gist. They even had a television show for a while!
The Birds of Prey were named-dropped by both Princess Necessity and KrypoTSD, who noted that they were less keen on the current reboot. The new version does feature Barbara back in the role of Batgirl, which is disappointing to the many fans who found her role as Oracle empowering to folks with disabilities. (Also, Oracle was the coolest boss.)
Nancy Drew, Bess Marvin, and George Fayne
(The Nancy Drew Mysteries by Carolyn Keene)
While Nancy Drew has had her fair share of ghostwriters since inception, she has always solved mysteries. And she often solved them with the help of her closest friends: George Fayne and her cousin Bess Marvin. They form your classic trinity: George being rough and tumble and unafraid, Bess closer to a more “feminine” stereotype, with Nancy as the balance that can stand between them and use both of their skills to great benefit.
Nancy Drew’s legacy as one of the most famous literary detectives makes her relationship with Bess and George all the more important. While finding stories that center on female friendship can be a challenge, Nancy’s easy camaraderie with her two dear friends was a given. Both drcox and semibee cited Nancy’s squad as a favorite—and even the Nancy Drew Cookbook got a mention!
The Three Mrs. W’s
(A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle)
The three Mrs. W’s from A Wrinkle in Time are a perfect girl-squad. Well, except for the “girl” part, since they’re not technically human, and they manifest as a trio of elderly women who probably wouldn’t take kindly to being called “girls”. Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which are on a mission to fight “the Black Thing”—a force of evil that is gradually spreading across the universe. They recruit Meg and Charles Wallace Murry and their friend Calvin O’Keefe, and promptly hop across a slew of planets to rescue Meg and Charles Wallace’s father. Mrs. Whatsit is the youngest of the three (at a spry 2 billion years old) and the most comfortable with humanity. She takes the appearance of an elderly woman shrouded in many layers of clothes, leading people to think she’s a squatter. At one point she transforms into a centaur, and also used to be a star. NBD. Mrs Who chooses to be a bit rounder than Mrs. Whatsit, and wears shining spectacles that obscure her eyes. She speaks in quotes in a variety of languages. Mrs. Which is the least corporeal of the three, but at one point she manifests as a witch, complete with a broom, and her speech is slow and echoing.
While the three can be severe, they love the children, and push them to become better fighters than they think they can be. They’re especially inspirational to Meg, and their influence helps her see her own strengths more clearly. The three of them also have an obvious affection for each other: bickering, explaining each others’ weird references, and working together with the kind of ease that can only come from millennia of squad-ship. We cannot wait to see how Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, and Oprah Winfrey do with the roles.
The Sailor Soldiers
From commenter Nora:
“The women of Sailor Moon, always and forever. First time as a young girl that I saw girls be truly powerful and pretty without male intrusion. For once, they were the center of the universe. Sure they fall in love, but they all have interests and hobbies outside of them. Each one is a complete person that totally kicks ass. But they really save the day through the power of kindness and love and friendship, often putting their lives on the line to prove these can solve anything, even war.”
It’s hard to argue with that, and for many young girls in the 90s, Sailor Moon was a formative show (or manga, if you were lucky enough to gets your hands on those). Not only were the Sailor Soldiers a fascinating team of young women, but you got to grow alongside them from the age of fourteen on up.