Funnily, I didn't think of Ripley either. Now I'm too young for Ripley to have been in my childhood. But thinking on it, I'm not sure I would have thought of Ripley as a "sci-fi" heroine. Alien was basically a horror movie and Aliens was an action movie. Thinking on it, I'm not sure I ever considered her a "sci-fi" heroine.
Which now has me spinning off into thoughts of "Where is the line between sci-fi..." and other genres. Like when is a movie a "Science Fiction" movie vs a "Horror Movie set in Space."
An ACTION heroine, especially after Aliens, absolutely. But the Ripley from Alien seemed a lot more similar to your "last girl standing" Horror heroine.
Yeah, her action came more in later movies. Does her character arc follow the traditional horror movie heroine theme, though? IIRC she didn't survive because she was without sin, and the others didn't die because they were sinful."...set in space."
When you start to ask if a movie is in a particular genre based on the setting alone it gets tangled pretty fast. I tend to thing of SF and F tales (in any medium) as having an extra main character: the setting. In most other kinds of stories the setting is a background character.
Since I was coming up empty on other female action heroes from the 70s and 80s I asked Google for help. Wikipedia
has an interesting (and admittedly limited) list that includes:
- Coffy from Coffy (1973)
- Yuki Kashima from Lady Snowblood (1973) and Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance (1974)
- Foxy Brown from Foxy Brown (1974)
- Princess Leia Organa from the original Star Wars series (1977–1983)
- Ellen Ripley from the Alien series (1979-1997)
- Sarah Connor from the Terminator series (1984–2015)
I presume Coffy is considered blacksploitation like Foxy Brown, and that Lady Snowblood didn't see wide distribution in North America? Slim pickings at the time. Leia, Ripley, and Conner were the full list for my childhood, I think.
They list two older movies as well:
- Pauline Hargraves from The Perils of Pauline movie serial (1933)
- Torchy Blane from the Torchy Blane series (1937–1939)
Have any of you seen either?