Top 10 Queer Female Television Characters of 2012

Well, 2012 was no 2011, but it was still a pretty good year to be queer on scripted television. Look at all the ladies!

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2012 saw the return of perpetual homosexy favorites such as Callie Torres & Arizona Robbins on Grey’s Anatomy, Emily Fields on Pretty Little Liars and Pam De Beaufort & Tara Thornton on True Blood.  Some of last year’s best queer characters, such as Franky Fitzgerald from Skinsgot de-queered this year, and others, like Frankie Alan from Lip Serviceran away to New York City. But while Pam was looking for Eric and Callie was apparently really busy off-screen, lots of other queer ladies took center stage in 2012: we saw lots of new faces or new prominence for old faces. So, without any further ado, our expert opinion on the Top Ten Queer Ladies of Television 2012.

Top Ten Best Fictional Lesbian, Bisexual and Otherwise-Inclined Television Characters of 2012

10. Anne Juergens (Molly Ringwald), Secret Life Of the American Teenager


Because “coming out” isn’t just for young people, this year we saw a well-handled lesbian storyline in the most unlikely of places: ABC Family’s cloying moralistic prime-timesuck The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Bonus: professional player-of-lesbians Anne Ramsay, the mother of Anne’s daughter’s boyfriend, helps Molly Ringwald‘s character through her late-in-life revelation.


9. Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi), The Good Wife


During season three, we saw a lot more of Kalinda kicking ass, taking names, and banging a chick or five in her spare time. I might not watch The Good Wife just to see her in action, but every scene she’s in is just a little sexier and smarter than the others. Season four brought the unfortunate return of her dreary husband, meaning we were subjected to a whole lot of violence and semi-consensual sex. The only good that ever came of that plot line was the ice cream scene. But it’s Christmas, you know, and I come bearing good tidings of great joy. Thanks to an all-around dislike for her husband, he’ll be gone ASAP, leaving Kalinda to do her thing the way she does it best – solo. (-by Laura)


8. Lauren Lewis (Zoie Palmer), Lost Girl


After discovering that Lauren Lewis, aka Dr Hot Pants, had a secret comatose girlfriend, Bo kicked off 2012 by dating someone who was not Lauren. It was not ideal, in fact it caused me to boycott the show for a while because I don’t support Bo and/or Lauren having intimiate relations with people who are not each other. Doccubus4lyfe, amirite. Their smokin’ hot tension picked right back up after Bo killed Lauren’s girlfriend, an event that probably would’ve been a deal-breaker for other fictional queers who are not so clearly meant to be together forever. If Bo and Lauren don’t become an official couple in 2013 then I might just die or at least go back to not watching this show for a while. (-by Crystal)


7. Imogen Moreno, Degrassi: The Next Generation


Tied with Sophia Swanson for the “Number One Critter” award, Imogen’s discovery of her feelings for another lady and subsequent “coming out” to friends and family were perhaps the biggest non-events in the history of the queer girl television. I’ve never really fallen for Fiona Coyne, Degrassi‘s resident lez and Imogen’s now-girlfriend, but Imogen — Imogen is awesome. Well, she’s awesome now. She was significantly less awesome prior to the queer storyline — all the shit she did in attempt to snag Eli ranged from sketchy to “totally fucked up.” But that seems to be in the past and here she is now with all her passionate feelings about theater set design and her total dorkiness and cute girlfriendness and difficult family situation handled with relative grace! Adorbs.


6. Sam Murray (Heather Peace), Tess Roberts (Fiona Button) & Lexy Price (Anna Skellern), Lip Service

Within Lip Service‘s first three episodes, Frankie fled for New York City and Cat got hit by a car and died! Although I missed Frankie dearly because Hotness, the show sans Frankie/Cat was pretty damn good, owing mostly to the star turns by previously sidelined Tess and Sam and the new sexy Australian doctor, Lexy. Out lesbian actress and musician Heather Peace worked overtime this season as Sam was thrust into emotional turmoil over Cat’s death, our recapper fell head-over-heels for Tess and Lexy injected some sorely needed common sense and doctor-hotness into the high-drama of a social group rapidly fraying at the seams. Also: sex. We’re crossing our fingers for another season — ideally a little sooner than last time.


5. Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson), American Horror Story


American Horror Story, the weirdest creepiest most fucked-up show on television, thrust a lesbian into center stage for its second Asylum season — and cast a lesbian (Sarah Paulson) to play her and another lesbian (Clea Duvall) to play her partner, Wendy. Set in 1964, Lana Winters is an ambitious low-ranking journalist who visits the Asylum to write about the serial killer Bloodyface, but when she gets there realizes that the bigger story is the asylum’s appalling conditions and rampant abuse and corruption. But before she can make much headway on her story, she’s committed to the asylum herself to “cure” her homosexuality. Things get more f*cked up from that point forward.


4. Sophia Swanson (Michelle Ang), Underemployed


Unfortunately for the entire world, Sophia Swanson is a kickass character stuck on a lousy show with a bunch of self-interested assholes and it’ll probably get cancelled. But fortunately, Sophia Swanson is an unexpected ray of light on an otherwise-heteronormative world — and, at least for the first few episodes, she’s positioned as the story’s narrator. Plot devices bungled by other lesbian storylines were delightfully subverted in Underemployed and for the first few episodes, she’s been granted ample screen time to grapple with her newfound sexuality, coming out to her friends and parents, and dating a woman for the first time. As the season plows forward, however, Sophia’s romantic life seems to be taking a backseat. Still though: I want to eat her face.


3. Paige McCullers (Lindsey Shaw), Pretty Little Liars


Paige went away for a little while. And when Paige came back, Paige was mega-hot, seemingly relatively emotionally stable and self-aware, and dapper as fuck. We were lead to doubt her a few times this year, but she came out clean every time — and hats off to Lindsey Shaw for creating some genuine lesbian sexual tension with Emily Fields! We even got some Paige Backstory, which hopefully means she’s not gonna get killed in January.


2. Betty McRae (Ali Liebert), Bomb Girls

Bomb Girls, a Canadian television series that blasted into our lives with unexpected amazingness, tells the story of the women who built bombs for the allied forces in the 1940s. Betty is the toppy-sexy-uber-dyke-lezzer-lezoholic who never met a pantsuit she didn’t like. She’s tough and smart and overall seems like the kind of girl who could fix your cabinet or save you from a shark attack without flinching. Fellow factory worker Kate is also clearly a lesbian, but also clearly in deep denial about it, as the finale suggested. It’s rare that we ever see our history on stage like this — what it was like to be a gay woman back then — and therefore the whole situation is just all-around fantastic.


1. Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera), Glee


If what we’ve seen so far is any indication, Season Four will slowly sideline Santana Lopez into the recesses of our lesbian memories, so this might be our last chance to honor the one and only Santana Lopez, the best thing to ever happen to Glee, ever. Also: duh.

ETA: I don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy, so I asked my fellow team members if Calizona should be on the list and they told me that Grey’s sucks this year and the lesbians haven’t gotten enough screentime this season to warrant a spot. But y’all in the comments tell a very different story, like apparently, “Callie Torres had to make a life or death decision that involved the amputation of her wife’s leg! And Arizona, in turn, has had to re-learn life now as a disabled (differently abled) person. And after a long, dramatic, heart wrenching, and beautifully acted 1/2 season they are FINALLY finding their way back to each other.” That sounds pretty list-warranting to me! So, honorable mention:

Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) & Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) – Grey’s Anatomy


As per ushe, if your favorite character isn’t included here and you’ve got feelings about it, we encourage you to comment in all-caps using as much punctuation and self-righteous indignation as possible!

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3198 articles for us.


    • I agree were is Leslie Shay, I know chicago fire is a relatively new tv show and we’ve only seen 10 episodes but Shay has so far in my opinion been one of the best written lesbian characters in primetime tv.

      • I know, right? She seems normal. Like, she has relationship issues that everyone has and isn’t treated like a zoo creature with weird lesbian-only issues. Novel.

    • I have to second this, mostly because up until yesterday I swore I’d stop watching shows just for cute lesbians and then somehow I watched all ten episodes in a day. And it wasn’t so bad? Like, I actually cared a tiny bit about all the straight dudes and their manpain? Shay’s not really anything we’ve never seen before, lesbian-on-tv-wise, but I do like how her sexuality isn’t a big deal (especially in that hyper-masculine environment), and she’s definitely very funny. And I also really like her whole face-related situation. So. There’s that.

    • Leslie Shay is one of my new favorites. I think she’s the only new lesbian on tv that didn’t get their show cancelled. I’m impressed with how the writers have handled the character so far and their is not even a hint of her having a sexual relationship with her male best friend unlike Grey’s Mark/Callie relationship that went to that well at least three times over the years resulting in Sofia.

    • Chicago Fire is my weekly must-watch, now. I just wish Shiri Appleby could’ve stuck around longer. Plus, why you gotta cliffhang us like that, Dick?

    • i don’t watch grey’s, but i asked the team about it and they said they didn’t have enough screen time this season to warrant a mention on the list? so i didn’t put them on. idk.

  1. I love Betty McRae so much, such a great character and Bomb Girls is such a good show. I can’t wait for season 2.

    • I am pretty much obsessed with Betty right now. She is IMO the best written and performed lesbian character that’s been on tv in a long time and that’s coming from a massive fan of just about everyone else on this list including Santana. Bomb Girls and Lost Girl also makes it seem like the Canadians are doing queer characters better than Americans these days.

      Season 2 of Bomb Girls starts up on January 2 in Canada. Not sure when Americans will get it since Season 1 just ended in the States but y’all need to find any means yo can to watch this show because it is brilliant.

    • Last week I won a comment award for mentioning Felicia Day in short shorts. So maybe you mentioning a GAY Felicia Day will win you a double comment award. Or the entire internet.

    • omfg no-one told me that this character was gay

      i was already freaking out because um she’s super attractive (and do you wanna date my avatar was how i realised i was a homo) but i wasn’t going to actually download/watch that episode because i don’t watch supernatural and goddammit i already have enough incredibly attractive straight girl obsessions

      but now you tell me that character was gay

      merry christmas to me is all i can really say

    • Dean: Do you any tattoos? Give him a little sneak peek there. All tattoos are sexy.
      Charlie: Mine is Princess Leia in a slave bikini straddling a 20-sided die… I was drunk, it was Comic-Con.

      That’s all I’ve got to say.

    • Yes, love her! On the topic of lesbians played by Felicia Day, she’s in 2 episodes of Dollhouse and she’s openly gay in the second one. (I assume she’s gay in the first. It’s revealed in the second one though)

      • I remember that episode! Oh my god, do I remember it. I don’t want to think about the amount of times I’ve seen it. I’ve been having a bit of a nostalgia moment over the last few days, remembering just how much fangirling I did over Felicia Day. I WATCHED BRING IT ON 2. Like ten times. Like, more than I watched the original. How’s that for an embarrassing confession?

  2. Isn’t crazy that television has come so far that we have a TEN female queer characters on tv list. And that’s not even all of the queers on tv because their quite a few women who didn’t make this list, like all of these women’s girlfriends for one. Bo, Callie, Arizona, Emily, Brittany, Fiona, Kate, etc.

      • yup, i mention them specifically in the introduction and they appear in the graphic at the top of the post — which also has a lot of girlfriends in it. just look at all those faces. it blows my mind.

        ten years ago there would’ve been three people to choose from, i think, and 20 years ago there would’ve been zero people to choose from. even surveying the options filled me with hope and joy.

  3. Callie Torres had to make a life or death decision that involved the amputation of her wife’s leg! And Arizona, in turn, has had to re-learn life now as a disabled (differently abled) person. And after a long, dramatic, heart wrenching, and beautifully acted 1/2 season they are FINALLY finding their way back to each other (anyone else excited about the grey’s return in January with the much anticipated Calzona reunited sex scene??).

    How does that not warrant them a spot on this list?

    Otherwise, I fully support this project. And I am especially in love with the top three (Paige McCullers FOREVER)

  4. Love the Canadians that made the list. All awesomely written ladies. Even though it’s a kids show I love watching imogen and fiona on degrassi. Is it asking for too much to want a spin off of imogens adventures once they graduate?

  5. this year saw Paige McCullers become one of the most realistic lesbian characters in tv so yay for the top 3 placement. But Lindsey’s awesome performance warrants a correct spelling of her name now, yea?

    and it sounds like it’s about time i tune into Chicago Fire

    • Do it!! Chicago Fire is fun. Also, just to go on about the Leslie Shay character a little bit more, she’s portrayed as being pretty promiscuous, but without all the condemnation that usually is associated with women sleeping around. Like she’s kind of a “stud” (for lack of a better term) like one of the guys would be and she’s not held up to some bullshit double standard because she’s a woman or a lesbian. And honestly? That’s all I ever want in a portrayal of female sexuality on tv. It can be weird and dysfunctional and everything, just as long as it’s not misogynistic.

  6. I want to love Paige so much but I still can’t look at her without seeing Moze from Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide.

    Also I clearly should be watching Lost Girl and Bomb Girls.

  7. I just miss Lip Service so much. :(

    Excellent list though over-all with a few quibbles. I’ve fallen so hard for Paige, Sam, Lexy and Tess and I echo everyone else’s excitement over series 2 of Bomb Girls. Callie and Arizona should have been here though, they’ve had an intense year. I agree with others that Leslie Shay is an awesome new character as well. Santana? Nah, not really. Past is past and she hasn’t had anything to do lately.

  8. I feel like I should watch PPL just for Paige. Gonna consider it :P

    Anyways, can I just say Toby? I seem to have forgotten her last name, but Toby of Primeval: New World. A geeky bi girl who’s just awesome :D She’s the resident techie, and played by Crystal Lowe. (and I ship her like mad with Dylan, although I doubt it’ll ever happen. Still, a girl can dream ^^)

    Also, yesss to Lauren, and although not on the list, Bo <3

  9. Been meaning to watch Bomb Girls for ages but I missed every episode. After reading that, however, it has been promptly downloaded. Gotta love a bit of history, especially if it’s a little bit gay.

  10. Is there any way to watch Bomb Girls for free in the US legally? My building will shut down the internet if use of illegal torrents is detected.

    • Bomb Girls airs on ReelzChannel in the states and they air it pretty much all the time. That’s the only legal way I know to watch it. But there are plenty of other “illegal” ways to watch it as well, which is how I do it.

      • Oh, and some nice folks on Youtube have uploaded all of the Betty/Kate scenes to date but the whole show is really worth a look because all of the women are really interesting not just the queer ones.

    • It’s on the Reelz channel, they’re doing a marathon of season 1 on Dec 30th and against on the 31st.

  11. Another lesbian to add to the list would be White Collar’s awesome FBI agent, Diana Barrigan. She doesn’t get nearly as much love as she deserves.

      I fucking love Diana. Especially how she was gone for the first season and they brought her back because everyone loved her so much from the one episode she was in.

  12. Oh, and Doctor Who is starting up again so I should mention that this season we get more of lesbian couple Madame Vastra and Jenny, who are going to be sort of unofficial companions. They’ve already released a few short prequel videos and these two are mad adorable together.

    Madame Vastra is played by Neve McIntosh who played another lesbian Lauren on Lip Service this year. Easy to forget since she wasn’t covered in all that green prosthetic makeup.

    • Right? I started watching lost girl when I came home for the holidays and am mid season two now because I can’t get enough Lauren. She really doesn’t get enough screen time but baby when she does…sigh!

  13. Madam Vastra and Jenny from Doctor Who. Best TV couple EVER!!!!! Also, christmas special anyone……….

    • It was so good. I think Vastra just might become my new favorite lesbian after Betty McRae. I love how in sync she is with Jenny too. Whenever they are in a scene together they stand so close to each other and seem to communicate almost without words. They really are a team.

  14. Natasha O’Keefe who plays Sadie in Lip Service. Literally the only reason I watch this show!

  15. Well, your team members definitely lied to you. Not only do Callie and Arizona have the most multidimensional and fleshed out lesbian relationship on TV, they absolutely have had pretty much as much screen time as Derek and Meredith. Specially Arizona who’s learning how to deal with having a missing leg and Callie trying to figure out how to cater to Arizona even though she’s mad as hell and at times treats Callie badly (but obs she understands).

  16. Really happy Callie/Arizona was added, because they broke my heart and then after torturous episode after torturous episode of them not speaking or worse, speaking, I cried so hard when they finally started mending their relationship oh my god. :)

  17. I love that it seems we are making some progress with regard to gay/bi women on TV. I’m still upset that Cat was killed off. If there is a 3rd season, I hope that the characters don’t act like she never existed.

  18. You must put Naomi(Lily Loveless) and Emily (Kathryn Prescott) (Naomily) up there from Skins UK 2nd generation. There story is soo beautiful and basically like any other lesbian based story line TV show.

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