Date of Award

Spring 5-19-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Flaherty

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary Magoulick

Third Advisor

Dr. Joy Bracewell


Over the past decade, a familiar villainous character has begun to arise in television adaptation: the mentally-fractured heroine who turns to villainy: women who have been attacked, raped, or lost loved ones to villains. These attacks and losses trigger murderous rampages and other violence that often leads to their descent into villainy. Netflix’s Jessica Jones, George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, and its television adaptation Game of Thrones, feature heroines that turn to violence to get revenge. However, the violent heroines in these texts and television adaptations do not just become villains; some find redemption and retain their status as heroes. The level of violence the women commit and the varying consequences that some face for similar acts of violence, shows the changing morals of modern society. The rising prominence of these heroines-turned-villains in popular entertainment formats can be seen as a marker of the growing section of society that believes in pushing for less violent solutions to injustice. This small movement means that a shaky line is being draw in entertainment formats between what is defined as acceptable violence and what is now being considered as a villainous character flaw. What determines when a character is lost and when they are redeemable is when their actions are completely controlled by their trauma and when they are deemed to be too much of a risk. Analyzing the portrayals of Daenerys, Arya, Trish, and Jessica works to highlight ongoing issues in our society: sexism, fear, ableism. The forms of entertainment that get time and attention must be looked at with a critical eye in order for society to see if it is perpetuating negative ideas about women, trauma, or mental illness.