Forget Captain Kirk, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. Here's the secret to all successful science fiction franchises: Behind every strong man is an even stronger woman.

Take Star Trek. Captain Kirk's space flavor of the week may have occasionally stolen the spotlight, but communications officer Lt. Uhura broke ground as one of the few African-American women featured as series regulars in 1960s television. She continued to shatter barriers by sharing television's first interracial kiss with Captain Kirk. When actress Nichelle Nichols thought about leaving Star Trek, Martin Luther King Jr. himself called and asked her to reconsider.

A parade of strong women followed—Star Wars' Princess Leia, Terminator's Sarah Connor and Alien 's Lt. Ripley, to name a few. Blockbusters on screen, science fiction has become just as popular, if not more, on television. Show creators have taken fantasies from space and brought unexplained phenomena back down to Earth. In The X-Files, Agent Dana Scully investigated alien abductions, ominous monsters and all other things that went bump in the night in what could have very well been our own backyards.

Which brings us to what's filling our TiVos today. ABC's V  and Fox's Fringe are two of the most recent breakout hits on television, and women warriors are at the heart of both science fiction series.


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