What Passes the Bechdel-Wallace Test?

This is a running list of books, films, TV shows, etc., that pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test. It only contains what I’ve seen or read, so it is by no means comprehensive. Many stories with prominent female characters do not pass this test, but that is not necessarily indicative of their overall quality. Here are the rules:

1) there must be at least two female characters

2) who talk to each other

3) about something other than a man

So why have this list in the first place? Because it’s extremely important to understand just how much the characterization of women is dependent upon their relationships with men. Male characters can go through their entire stories as fully developed, interesting people without any part of their journey involving women (i.e. The Hobbit). By contrast, the vast majority of female characters have stories that largely focus on the men they interact with (i.e. Doctor Who). This trend in the fictional world is a reflection of beliefs and practices in the real world, which are then cycled back into the real world.

I feel it is important for writers, especially those who aren’t women, to see examples of stories with female characters whose character development or even entire story arcs have little to nothing to do with men. The stories on this list are not always entirely devoid of male characters, but they are all written in such a way that the females have more to talk about or focus on than whatever is happening with the males.

Other versions of the test exist for PoC (people of color) and GSMs (Gender and Sexual Minorities, which is another way to refer to not-straight and/or not-cisgender people). The fact that most stories fail the Bechdel Test and its variants is very telling about the kinds of stories we tell and what gets the most attention or acclaim. It also doesn’t surprise me that most of what’s on this particular list are stories not made in the West.

So without further adieu, here is my list.

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1) Avatar: the Last Airbender

2) The Legend of Korra

3) My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

4) Sailor Moon

5) Lucky Star

6) K-ON

7) Spirited Away

8) Brave

9) Adventure Time

10) Kaleido Star

11) Tales of Symphonia

12) Powerpuff Girls

13) The Most Popular Girls in School

14) Panty & Stocking

15) Puella Magi Madoka Magica

16) Tangled

17) The L Word

18) Lip Service

19) Orange is the New Black

20) Parks and Recreation

21) The Office

22) The Hunger Games

23) Orphan Black

24) RWBY

25) Attack on Titan (manga)

26) Lost Girl

27) Frozen

28) Strawberry Panic

29) Women of the Silk

30) Kill la Kill

31) Sakura Trick

32) Azumanga Daioh

33) Lucky Star

34) Carmilla (Web series)

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